EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Copyright © Geoff Thompson 2007 All rights reserved. The right of Geoff Thompson to be identified as the author of this work have been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Condition of Sale This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent publisher. Summersdale Publishers Ltd 46 West Street Chichester West Sussex PO19 1RP UK www.summersdale.com Printed and bound in Great Britain ISBN: 1-84024-597-2 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-597-4

As always, with big love and thanks to my beautiful wife Sharon for carrying my bones over some tough terrain. Thank you to my lovely friend Margaret Ring for being an inspiration to me and my children over many a McDonald’s coffee.

Also by Geoff Thompson Red Mist Watch My Back: The Geoff Thompson Autobiography The Elephant and the Twig: The Art of Positive Thinking The Great Escape: The 10 Secrets to Loving Your Life and Living Your Dreams Fear – The Friend of Exceptional People: Techniques in Controlling Fear Shape Shifter: Transform Your Life in 1 Day The Formula: The Secret to a Better Life Stress Buster: How to Stop Stress from Killing You Dead or Alive: The Choice is Yours .

................................14 Catching Crabs ..........................135 What do You Want to do?....................................27 Everest.....................................108 The Reciprocal Universe.......122 Time..............................................................18 Change Chaser......47 Gratitude: a Bit of Invisible Support.................................................................................................................................68 Looking Out..................................23 Easy............................................................................................7 Be Nice..............131 We Are All Dying...................................................................80 Reciprocal Returns....................................................................................................103 The Power of Books................................................................126 Waterfall..................................................................................86 The Art of Restriction.............................................41 Goals...................60 Have Your Cake and Eat It............ Looking In......................................................................35 Forgiveness: the Healthy Option.................64 Intention..............................Contents Foreword...................140 Who am I to be a Success?............................................................................................................118 They Laughed at Lowry....................................................................................83 Suffering......................................................98 The Pornographic Wasp............30 Everything that Happens to Me is Good.............................153 ...........................................75 Night-travellers..............93 The Blame Trap.149 You Are What You Ingest...........................................114 There is No Land Rover...............................................................9 Carp Fishing...........................................................................................

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I’ve also added a few extended and revised extracts from my book The Elephant and the Twig because they fit the ethos of this work. I personally love an uplifting article on the commute to work or a cerebral snack over lunch.Foreword Although I am primarily a writer of books and films. (And whatever you do. quick read. magazines and my website. my friend and web master) I have decided to collect my favourites into the book you have before you now. After many requests from readers (and several prompts from Richard Barnes. I hope this proves to be just that. Geoff Thompson 7 .) There is something very satisfying and enjoyable (I think) about filling one of life’s many stolen or idle moments with a good. don’t give me a book to read in the loo – I might never come out again. over the years I have also penned a bevy of articles for newspapers.

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How bizarre. The poem went. 9 . And yet the mention of the reciprocality of genuine niceness does not seem to find its way into the reams of written work on doing business. rather because it is true.Chapter 1 Be Nice I read a fabulous poem once that has always stuck with me. ‘I knew a man they called him mad the more he gave the more he had. not because it is sweet. There is a massive profit in being nice.’ I think we can assume from this small ditty that the man in question was a nice man who had stumbled upon one of life’s great secrets: What you give out will return. as long as you are not being nice for profit.

People are often guilty of believing that everyone has an agenda – especially those who dare to be nice. It is not hard. Even the ones that were terrible taught me about where I didn’t want to be. Many of the books talked about the win-win mentality. made it and squandered it. risk taking. But none advised me about the most important lesson in business: Be nice. The books have all been enlightening. and even those that made it and hid the proceeds under the bed in a biscuit tin for fear of losing it all. cynical environment. speculation. I have read books by the guys and gals that have made it. Nobody does 10 . philosophers and gurus and taught about the dangers of money and power. about morals. courage in business. made it and given it all away. lost it and made it back again. the art of making a living. those that dare to give and ask nothing in return. Some quoted great sages. It costs nothing and it goes a hell of a long way (and comes back laden with profit).EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD In my pursuit of freedom through information I have studied everything from religion to spirituality. and of course I have read – looking for inspiration – plenty about business. about profit and loss. Simply be nice. The business world can often be a very difficult. and dedication. lost it. Those who scratch backs without asking for their own to be scratched are often judged with the utmost scepticism. about ethics. innovation. from theology to philosophy and law.

He is also an extremely generous man. Always. His work is amazing. You might think that his success is simply because of his hard work. They are all generous. He is a dynamo. His capacity to help others to fulfil their 11 . Clocking Off. most inspiring people in my world are all nice. People are throwing work at him. Paul Abbot. I have a friend. He never stops being nice. Touching Evil and Linda Green to name just a few of the shows he’s created. his work ethic even more so. He is responsible for (most recently) Shameless. You’d be wrong. both with his time and his advice. They all do things for me – and for many others – with no thought of profit. What you give out always returns. For those who don’t know him. It is the law. He never stops giving. If you go to his house and watch how he works you will see why he is so successful. They are all kind and do good deeds purely for the love of doing them. State of Play. But of course this is not true. he is probably the top British TV writer of all time. The best. His house is like Euston Station on a Friday afternoon with all the comings and goings of the people he is helping. He has deals and contracts and commissions coming out of his very eyes. who is an incredibly successful writer.BE NICE anything for nothing. most attractive. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

she has found immortality in the minds of many people (not least mine) just because she was so generous and nice. as is Paul. I have found that people want to work with people who are nice. And I am not talking 12 . people will help them tighten their game. Ultimately. Similarly. He gets in loads and loads of work and gives much of it away to new writers. people will go out of their way to find. even create work for them. People will bend themselves into all sorts of contorted shapes (including over backwards) so that they can help. And yet the more they give the more they seem to get. often writers that the system has chewed up and spat out. Even if – at this present moment in time – their game is not as sharp as it might be. and how many people he helps without asking anything in return. or offer them anything other than gratitude. and although my Auntie May is no longer on this plane.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD own ambitions and dreams seems limitless. And the more he gives away the more he seems to get back. The great thing about Paul and Glenn and May is that most of the people they look after are not even in a position to return the favour. I am always hearing stories about how nice my friend Glenn Smith is. If they are nice. And my Auntie May (sadly now deceased) literally filled the room with her capacity to be nice and to give for no other profit than the joy it brought her. The effect is amazing. struggling writers. Glenn is thriving in business and life.

Being nice because it helps others. it will only find permanent abode with those who do.) But I would argue that if you are not nice. The meek (as they say) will inherit the earth. There is no profit in being nice. and whilst profit may sojourn with those who do not heed the rules. Dishonesty in business is always the eventual harbinger of doom. unless being nice is congruent with who you actually are. nice for the effect.BE NICE about pseudo-nice. I am sure that to some of the hard-line business people out there this might sound a little trite: ‘Be a nice person. I am only talking about the genuine article. People like it when you are nice. If the nice you are offering is not of the genuine variety then it is a lie. (Business types often mistake nice for weak. there will ultimately be no room in business for you. 13 .’ I have even been told that there is no room in business for nice people. nice to fit in or even nice to impress.

I was also right in the middle of a very big book signing tour (for Watch My Back) that saw me visiting 60 shops in about 32 cities. As you can imagine 14 . and the heavy travelling schedule. I was teaching in the beautiful city of Edinburgh.Chapter 2 Carp Fishing I can remember (as though it were yesterday) a troubling internal conflict that I was wrestling with about five-years ago. As well as the tour. of which Edinburgh was but one. Bouncer and On The Door) into a hardcover omnibus edition and self-publish it in a bid to make The Sunday Times bestseller list. Scotland with my friend Peter Consterdine. I had also undertaken a huge financial risk when I decided to amalgamate all my bouncer books (Watch My Back. the teaching. But teaching was just one of the myriad balls I was juggling at the time.

whether I wanted to actually be on the martial-arts scene at all if it spawned and seemingly encouraged such inane negativity. tapes and 15 . In fact.CARP FISHING I was stretched. I was troubled so I spoke with Peter about it one night in the bar of the Malmaison Hotel. until fate intervened. I was becoming anxious and angry. The publication of these letters actually made me question whether I really wanted to write for this magazine anymore. but with everything I was already carrying this one thing seemed to tip me over the edge. by me – decided to make it their life’s mission to slander and threaten me via the Letters page of the very magazine I was a columnist in. but they nevertheless found page space and were read by thousands. in fact. my success. Someone – disgruntled by my work. Peter has always been a mentor to me. The nature of the letters – very personal and derogatory – were both unjustified and unfair. But I was handling it OK. my profile. But with my mind stretched and vulnerable it found its way through my bullshit detector and was stabbing at my sensitive underbelly. he was the one who initially took me under his wing and helped me develop some very raw ideas into books. At any other time I probably would have left the slander where it belonged – in the bin. that is. It made me question whether I wanted the profile I was receiving and. Now you might think that this is par for the course when you are a profiled author.

it’s not war in the Middle East. split up with his wife and even lost his home. Apparently it had become more important that his health and his sanity. It’s not cancer. his family.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD seminars. ‘Carp fishing?’ Peter explained. he was accused of using illegal bait. It’s carp fishing. Now Peter didn’t say whether our man was guilty or innocent. He is largely responsible for the success I enjoy in the martial arts today. thought to himself. nay ruined. it’s carp fishing!’ I said (more than a little confused). ‘It’s just carp fishing. ‘Geoff. his life. it’s not starving children in Africa. his home. started taking medication. what had started out as a gentle pastime. it had become everything. but what he did say was that the guy became so worried/angry/ incensed and stressed about the accusation that he became depressed. He’d been riding the high-tide of success when something happened that changed. Just before one of the major championships. nodded wisely (as he does) and said. had actually become his whole world. 16 . Peter listened intently.’ This guy had become so engrossed in his sport that. dumfounded. It was more important to him than his wife. Peter told me how he’d watched the story unfold on television and. He told me that he was watching television one day and happened to catch a news story about a professional angler who appeared on TV regularly and had won a lot of major championships.

about not letting things become bigger than they really are. We focus on them so intently that we lose our valuable sense of perspective. mountains can often be (or appear to be) insurmountable. It is very difficult for the eyes to see clearly what the mind has got completely out of focus. ‘It’s one man. 17 . and what has stayed with me ever since. an individual. and as we should all know. someone who was probably very angry because I was out there doing it. It was an opinion. was just carp fishing. His father said.’ This reminded me of another friend who went to see his father – a war veteran – for advise about a problem he was having. As Peter said to me. And an opinion from some yokel who had never stepped into the arena himself. His father asked him. is the fact that the criticism I was receiving. and a few letters. far from being important.CARP FISHING What Peter pointed out to me. while he was one of the faceless multitude that liked to jeer from the bleachers because they were too scared to step into the ring. and when this happens molehills quickly start becoming mountains.’ What I learned from this valuable lesson is that we often take ourselves and our problems way too seriously. It’s not life and death. Geoff. ‘Is someone going to kill you?’ My friend said no. ‘Then you don’t really have a problem. I suppose what I am trying to say is that it’s all about perspective.

I watched in awe as these leathery-faced. What fascinated me most was not that they had crawled into what seemed an obvious trap. not them kind). yet still they didn’t try to escape. caught a couple of unlikely crabs that crawled in via a small hole in the lid and made their first (inadvertent) steps from basket to crabstick. After a few minutes it became clear to me why. rather I was disturbed by the fact that they did not crawl back out again.Chapter 3 Catching Crabs I watched a documentary when I was younger about how fishermen catch crabs (no. Eventually the basket filled to the brim with crustaceans. salty men of the sea lowered a mesh basket onto the ocean bed and. 18 . in no time at all. even when the fishermen removed the lid.

The old guy.’ Then came the coup de grâce: ‘There’s no security out there. when I told my (ex) wife that I wanted to leave my steady job at the chemical factory. ‘This is a steady job. ‘What do you want to leave for?’ they would ask patronisingly.’ ‘And what do you think of it?’ ‘It’s crap. I’d been there six years. (In fact. ‘Oh about thirty years. went straight to work. It’s safe. thought for a second. like the crabs. face like a walnut. on the offensive. The old crab. claws raised. ‘But what will we do? What if we don’t make the mortgage? What if it doesn’t work out? What if… ’ It usually only took a few ‘what if ’s’ to get my blood boiling.’ I’d whine. ‘You haven’t given it a chance! You’ve only been here five minutes. 19 . Every time I had ever tried to leave a bad job and break away. tired of the unchanging replies. I was amazed! I was watching my life’s metaphor.’ he said without hesitation. ‘I hate the place. the other crabs (the blighters) pulled him back in again.) ‘So how long have you been here then?’ I asked one day. had pulled me back again.’ came the usual response. her face turned rolled-in-flour white. my peers.CATCHING CRABS Every time a crab tried to crawl out of the trap. you know!’ ‘But I hate it here.’ Similarly.

only to be thwarted by a faulty internal dialogue that was stronger than my will to continue. 20-years on. Even today. the disheartened crabs not only stopped trying to escape but they also joined the other crabs in pulling back those that did try. it was drowned by the voices of my inner crabs. I noticed that. a mortgage. I had a family. And the longer I stayed the more glue I got stuck in. Self-depreciation became part of my inner core. HP payments. ‘What can I do to get out of this nightmare?’ I felt so trapped. I used to sit in the works canteen in the dead of night when everyone else was tucked up in bed and think. so many things that kept me glued to a job I hated. I’d been pulled back so many times in my life that I too felt disheartened. the very thought of that long ride still inspires a depression that reminds me how grateful I am to have found a way out. but I had allowed others to convince me that 20 . after being pulled back a few times. Many times I picked up my biro in a fit of inspiration to write my way out of the factory by penning (what I dreamed would be) the next bestseller. The moment an entrepreneurial thought entered my mind.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD As I watched the documentary. a cat and a Raleigh Racer. I could never think of anything else I wanted to do other than write. three children. So the pen would be discarded and replaced by bicycle clips and a ride to the factory for a night shift that I abhorred.

But. even mountains would crumble. The fault was entirely mine. I convinced myself. That was when the realisation hit me like a hefty tax bill. nothing and no one would be able to stop me. She retracted her claws. even leave the country for that matter.CATCHING CRABS I was dreaming and that this was not a real option. believed it could be done and had a little faith in my own power. She wasn’t holding me back at all. Then one night. She gave me her permission. told me to shut my moaning gob and get a job that I did like if I was so unhappy. it wasn’t my fault. leave the city. I realised at this point – looking in the mirror not at a hard-done-by 20-something but at a frightened youth – that if I didn’t want to stay in a job. after my usual session of Sunday-evening bitching. I was up to my kneecaps in the brown stuff out of choice. Blaming others was my way of hiding from my own fear. If I put my heart and soul into doing something. I resigned myself to a nine-to-five. my wife did something unprecedented. Well. Monday-to-Friday life of oil and grime. 21 . My nightmarish employment was no more her fault than it was the fault of the old timers at the factory or my peers. if I really wanted to leave the factory. Those around me only stopped me from climbing out of the basket because I let them. I nearly fell over with the shock. I was stuck in the factory because my wife wouldn’t let me leave.

I snatched back my free will. I have never looked back. I climbed out of the basket.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I could do anything. This was my world. I realised that the only security I needed was the knowledge that no matter what happened. my incarnation. I made a decision. Me. It was brilliant. A few years later my mates were all made redundant from the secure ‘job-for-life’ in the factory. Shortly after the shock of this realisation. I could and would handle it. I left my steady job of seven years and entered the real world of opportunity and excitement. exciting and scary. I could be anything. So much to do. so many places to go. 22 .

’ I heard this saying many years ago and sort of innately knew what it meant. even if. but getting what you want comes with a price tag. To me. it meant that you should be careful when practising manifestation (the art of manifesting your desires and intentions) because it is an awesomely potent force that works. I have been thinking a lot of late about why people don’t succeed in life. I 23 . ‘What the hell does that mean?’): ‘Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it. That price tag is change.Chapter 4 Change Chaser Have you ever heard the saying (and thought. I could neither articulate it nor act upon it. at the time. You will get what you steadfastly wish for. and why so many settle for second best when the whole world is open to them.

’ In other words. Gandhi had a radical suggestion regarding change. Death of the old. we should not cower in a hole hoping that somehow change might pass us 24 . rather success was and is (often) a complete change of identity. we should not just sit and wait for the clammy grip of inevitability.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD realised that the main reason for failure is not fear of failure but rather fear of success. Fewer still have the bottle to take on this danger. Change chasers are the leaders of this world. the worn-out and the redundant. a complete change of who you are. I have witnessed so many people stand at the doorway to greatness only to balk and pull back at the last minute because. go out and. Why do we fear this seemingly insignificant word? Because ‘change’ translated means death. Change is the one thing that we as a species tend to fear the most. This change can cause temporary. He said that we should. the out-worn. even permanent disorientation. Only very few people in society really get this. Change is a word often bandied about with a flippancy that does not convey its potential for danger. ‘Be the change we want to see. they realised that success was not just a change of job title or an award or more zeroes in the bank. rather than run from the change. on looking through. face it and chase it.

if you live the change. an exciting and empowering third option. birth of the new. When the caterpillar emerges from its chrysalis. It has to die to the old before it can be born to the new. take on the odds and challenge change to take its best shot. So you have a choice. You can’t have one without the other. be the change. God’s great gift to mankind. It suggests that we should put in our gum shields. If you be the change you want to see you take away its sting. if you are the change. offers us a choice. only our resistance to it. it just as certainly means birth. There is as much freedom in acceptance of change as there is pain in resisting change. to cower and hide from the inevitable or to be brave and be the inevitable. If you can be the change. ride it and use its latent and innate power to drive us. bang on our bag gloves. get into the fray and out of the spectator stands. to garner our courage and be the constant. how can you fear the change? How can you fear what you are? It is not change that hurts. Death of the old. But our free will. The good news is that whilst change might mean death. 25 . we see the birth of the butterfly. Change is going to happen anyway whether you like it or not. They are the opposite sides of the same coin. It is the only constant. We should anticipate change and be on its crest as the great wave comes in. you de-fang it.CHANGE CHASER by on its perpetual sweep of the universe.

26 . What changes are you hiding from? Which fears are pinning you down? What would you really love to do but at the same time fear to do? Why not empower yourself today and turn the tables on change by stepping out to meet it? You might be surprised to find a brand-new shiny you just waiting to shapeshift and emerge.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Have a look at your life right now.

but then everything is easy in hypothesis. 27 . Writing is easy. ‘he writes all day. But easy? I don’t think so. It must be because it is all I hear people say these days.Chapter 5 Easy Amongst other things. I love it. ‘Geoff doesn’t do a real job.’ they say. I write films for a living. I have found that those who have yet to live up to their own standards will employ any available excuse to keep their pen and paper in different rooms rather than write the blockbuster they keep threatening to produce. Perhaps for the ignorant and the inexperienced it seems easy.’ Really? Writing is my passion. It’s easy. It is what I do. Perhaps it seems easy from the sidelines but then everything is easy from the spectator’s stand.

If Sharon hadn’t insisted I keep trying. (One of my films has been turned down by 75 different financers. People said. I fear I might have taken the advice that I kept getting and thrown it in the bin. of course. a saint’s patience and the tenacity of a Titan. Overnight!’ So far I have been on this film for 12 years. Let me give you an example of how easy my job is. Some of the early critique bordered on abusive. Every major film company in Britain turned it down several times. (I’ll fucking show you. I have lost count of the amount of drafts I’ve written. ‘Who wants to read a book about a Coventry bouncer? Leave your number in the bin. ‘It happened so quickly.’ It was turned down by more companies than I care to remember. If people keep thinking that success (in any field) is easy. and the only way I stayed afloat was to use that criticism to give me drive. Everyone said.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD When I was ignorant and inexperienced I did and said exactly the same. It 28 . In this industry that is not unusual. My first film went into production in January 2007.) When I wrote my book Watch My Back it was a similar story. they will be ill-prepared when reality smacks them between the eyes with demands for a steel fixer’s work ethic. This is important. It hurt.) It was that attitude that helped me get the book onto The Sunday Times bestseller list.

29 . The many rebuttals tempered and energised me. No one thought it was good enough to finance. Natasha Carlish. I could go on but I think the point it clear.EASY helped me write a stage play that had a national tour. the director) over two million pounds in finance. I developed an iron resolve. Brown Paper Bag did not attract any financing at all. too harsh. knock-backs and criticism have helped me to develop a sinewy self-belief and a self-reliance that is so muscular it has its own respiratory system. but… I liked it. Life is difficult. the producer and Neil Thompson. It is difficult when you feel that you are not getting any encouragement. who re-mortgaged her house for the film. It helped me write a short film that attracted international film stars. It weathered me like an old oak. I loved it. All the rebuttals. The film that won the BAFTA. But difficult is a necessary pre-requisite to success. so we (the producer. No one has it easy. of course. Then I wrote a feature film and raised (with Martin Carr. and I) financed it ourselves. It was too bleak. No one wanted to make it. a BAFTA and entry into over thirty international festivals. had been done before.

He was in bits. The critique (he felt) was so scathing that it made his eyes water.’ as he saw it) all rather personally and was struggling to carry on. judgmental and a bastard to boot. behind the times. My friend had taken the critique (or the ‘beasting.’ 30 .Chapter 6 Everest A friend wrote to me. He told me that he was going to give up writing because the film world was (in his words) ‘biased. I knew the feeling. I have been there so often that I‘ve actually developed bark over my exterior to help weather the critical storms. He’d applied for money from a local screen agency to produce a film he had written and they had returned his script with a rebuttal and a list of notes on how unprepared they thought he and his work were.

one of many I presume (in this very subjective and very demanding business. rebuttal comes with the everyday post). he chose to see it as personal insult rather than qualified critique. had all but floored him. but when the experienced industry folks advised him that it wasn’t (not yet). Adversity and advance are synonymous and. despite his set-back. not least film-making. It is tough at the high end of any business. after all. and bad films seem to be more the norm than the exception. chunks of hardship can be moulded into the building blocks of strong character. With a slight change in perception. because it is unlikely to get easier as you climb higher. it was the north wind that made the Vikings. His email reminded me of a documentary I’d watched on TV and I told him about it in the hopes that it might inspire him to carry on. in shape and filmable.EVEREST This knock-back. but you can’t by-pass it. sometimes it’s boot-in-the-bollocks painful. 31 . He felt his work was ready. I tried to advise him that what he was experiencing was film-making (certainly it was a big part of the process) and that he should get used to it. It can be soul destroying. My friend was attempting to ascend the Everest that is making a movie but struggling (and bitching about – please don’t bitch about) the altitude. where millions are lost on bad films.

What he hadn’t prepared for (what you can’t really prepare for) was the actuality of being (as the Everest stalwarts are fond of saying) ‘on the mountain. This is why on the higher echelons of Everest (and of life) there are very few people. that is. To make his dream a reality. meticulous even. at base camp. he trained his body to perfection until he was all sinew and muscle. Even helicopters fall out of the sky in these higher altitudes because the spinning blades can’t find purchase. 32 . His training was good. The lack of air makes breathing – even for the fittest athletes – difficult. Until. although this man had been told many times in his preparations that the air on Everest was thin and that it would make progress slow and breathing difficult. He thought that this would be enough. It wasn’t until he actually found himself on the mountain. lift heavy weights and captain his body and mind through the most excruciating physical workouts. he never really heeded the council.’ Because on the mountain the air is thin.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD The film was about a super-fit man who wanted to climb Everest. that he realised his stamina fell short of the mark. on day one when his chest was as tight as a fat kid’s school shirt and he couldn’t catch his breath. he could run a fast marathon. Now. And the higher you go (as in life) the thinner the air gets.

‘No. when you are on the mountain.EVEREST He complained to his companions. I’m a fit man. it’s a good day’). It’s a high mountain. I am conditioned. he complained. the neophyte climber would not have any of it. Not being able to breathe was not normal for him.’ And here endeth the lesson. this is the norm. all experienced climbers. ‘Listen! We’re on Everest. The inability to be able to get your lungs full is normal. that he couldn’t breathe properly and they duly advised him (and reminded him) that.’ he insisted. I need to be told every now and then to ‘stop the bitching and get on with it.’ Patiently the message was reiterated. He was convinced that his breathlessness was an early sign of some mysterious mountain illness. He bitched so much that in the end one of the climbers pulled him to one side and said (very firmly). ‘Look. ‘you don’t understand. ‘There is very little air on the mountain. if you wake up in the morning feeling shit when you’re on the mountain. As much as his companions tried to reassure him that the way he was feeling ‘was normal’ (one climber said. If you want more air climb a smaller fucking mountain. The higher you go the less there is. He was fit.’ I am always trying to reach higher peaks and often 33 . There is no air. I should be able to breathe easier. I need to hear it sometimes.’ Again.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD find myself ready throw in the towel. And if that means less air (I haven’t got much ’air anyway). the inadequate industry support. 34 . the lack of help. complaining about the discomfort. It always gets me psyched up. then so be it. Then I remind myself of this story. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to climb small mountains. I want to ascend into the clouds with the legends. back on my feet and moving.

a fellow writer.Chapter 7 Everything that Happens to Me is Good I heard it the other day and it made me smile. so much so that I went and made myself a cup of tea. ‘That Geoff Thompson bloke. tilted a similar lance in my direction.’ Another friend. He told me that his lack of commercial success was due to the fact that he has had so many things block his path (poor health. as though I was somehow impervious to the slings and arrows of life. on the other hand.) I. He said this like nothing bad has ever happened to me. family issues. etc. He has had it so easy. 35 . he lives a charmed life. had succeeded only because I’d had it so easy. Someone said (with a hint of a scorn and a peppering of self-pity).

It found its way into his bones. A five-minute journey to the hospital took a lifetime and when I arrived all the doctors could tell me was. One of my gorgeous babies took an overdose of pain killers when she was 18 years old. Let me try and explain. how to live bravely.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I have to come clean though. He has left me with a great legacy of love and very valuable lessons. I couldn’t even talk on the phone without breaking down. It was his time and I was pleased that he finally got to graduate from this hard university we call life. how to die with dignity.m.’ It was a long day. I do live a charmed life and I have had it easy. Then he died. ‘We won’t know until tomorrow. He was right. He had cancer. He was a good man. phone call and my heavy heart bled. But he has finished his brief sojourn on this spinning globe and now he is home. rather because everything that has happened to me has been good. It was good. disliked by none. My lovely dad died recently. not because nothing bad has ever happened to me. It was an even longer night. They were all right. it is cause for celebration. My dad lived a good life. He was loved by many. And that is not just good. It broke my heart to see him suffering so much whilst he was ill. I got the five a. 36 .

‘We are sorry she is here but this is the only way we could get her out. When he died.’ I trusted that this was true and it was. She is now happy and training to be a teacher. a small voice (somewhere in my consciousness) said to me. she went to university and met a nice guy who was appreciative of her beauty and sensitive nature. There was more to it than that. of course. I loved his very bones.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Someone said. He was bloated and yellow and ravaged and… so very beautiful. Drink was his armoury and life was his enemy and. it was not me he called out for.’ My girl had fallen into a dark and loveless chasm where even the voices of her kin could not be heard. But my brother loved the drink and the drink loved my brother. ‘What’s happened to my daughter is the best thing that could have happened. but what happened to my daughter was good. not her sisters. It was not 37 . When she lay in that hospital bed. ‘Terrible what’s happened to your daughter. She recovered. not her mum – could break her out. She was in a relationship that was imprisoning and dangerously destructive and none of us – not me. well. you can guess the rest. What happened to my daughter saddened me beyond words.’ I said. I have never felt such profound love for anyone as I felt for Ray during his five fast days of slow dying. My brother died violently. so much so that the love affair killed him.

The illness is self-inflicted. I loved him. It is her journey and it is good because all journeys lead home. It was one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. He cried out the name of his drinking companion. It was also one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD my mother’s name that bounced and echoed off the hospital walls. But it was good. 38 . I have another family member who is dangerously ill. The friend that passed the bottle in long days of hard drinking was very human and very broken and he loved my brother. My close family and I are forced to stand by and watch this slow decline because we can’t save someone who will not be saved. The lessons he taught me – both good and bad – I pass on. nor the names of any of his four heartbroken children. It is her life. What happened to my beautiful brother has informed everything I do. everything I write about and everything I think. It is her soul. That is ultimately where we are all heading. It is her story. another alcoholic that shared his oblivious and sad existence. For that reason alone. I felt privileged that he chose me to watch his back as he left this life for the next. They will (they have and will again) save others. What is happening obviously needs to happen. nor my dad’s. It was difficult. It is her body. I was with Ray as his decaying body buckled and bled and closed down. My brother’s death was good.

39 . self-hate. I carry the karma of the hundreds of guys that I fucked up on nightclub doors when I worked as a bouncer. more beautiful place. It has been hard to forgive myself. represented a step on the ladder of consciousness that has delivered me to where I am now. fenced stolen goods and hurt my kids with my thoughtless actions. No self-pity here. self-harm and illness. Each of these. The pre-fight. I also fucked around. I am left with the residual ache of remorse. It was all good. each concussive stamp and each spitting invective has been… uncomfortable. guilt. No regrets. lessons that are as profound as they are stark and reference points that add an empirical wisdom to every new situation that I bring upon myself. betrayed my ex-wife. Much of it does not make easy reading. We all have to atone. Very good. however. You don’t just do that shit and walk away without debt.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I also have my own story. The trail follows you until you find the courage to turn and face it and take the consequences. physically. In my former incarnation as a man of lower consciousness. in-fight and post-fight have all been excruciatingly good. lost my integrity. stole. a better. My actions spawned ten years of karmic residue that have brought me sadness. mentally and spiritually. Re-living each teeth-smashing boot to the face. especially my back-story. So it has all been good.

Because I know they’re right. 40 . if in life’s next instruction I find myself revisiting those shadowy places. I will do my very best to neither spin nor toil. so profound.’ I will continue to smile. I do. he’s got it so easy. Everything that happens to me is. And when folks say. neither will I complain because it will all be good. So. anvil and furnace to temper every blade. ‘That Geoff Thompson bloke. Every excess I indulged produced a lesson so painful.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD The experiences that fell into the realms of excess have been especially good. I know that life will continue to proffer some of its own. I will continue to drink my tea. The road of excess (as the poet William Blake said) leads to the palace of wisdom. so earth-moving that it permeated my whole consciousness. Although I vow never to repeat these dark experiences. It does have a habit of providing the hammer.

Thus if spirituality came into the conversation I followed the norm and patronisingly ‘eye-rolled’ with the rest of the sheep. I’ve always had a deep interest in the spiritual. Now that I am a little more self-assured I don’t need the kind of conditional security that the ‘norm’ offers.Chapter 8 Forgiveness: the Healthy Option Have you ever noticed that when you mention things of a spiritual nature. because the idea of seeking something unseen is completely at odds with today’s bodyobsessed culture? Myself. do you think. Instead I 41 . eyes start to roll and conversational exits are surreptitiously sought? Is it. during my woolly mammoth period as a bouncer it was buried beneath the fear of looking like a twat in front of my mates. Though. I admit.

or our sister for some wrong she inflicted upon us last year. but I’ll never 42 . nor our neighbour for a minor misdemeanour. sinewy mentality. sometimes we feign forgiveness with the anaemic proclamation. pumping ‘cerebral iron’ to build a deep. And yet when we examine the world in which we live. ‘I’ll forgive you. we see that there are many people preaching forgiveness. We claim to love those close to us yet we can’t forgive our brother for a ten-year-old error in judgement. surface mastery – hitting hard. It appears that we can’t even forgive ourselves for stupid mistakes made on our own journey through life. Oh. lifting heavy weights. They say that forgiveness is good for the soul.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD look to developing a deep-rooted internal security that is as steadfast as it is empowering. It is the doctrinal mainstay of just about every religious icon – from the Nazarene right through to Mahatma Gandhi – who has ever walked the earth. building muscle – I now labour from the inside out. We can’t forgive the foreman for the way he treats us on the factory floor. when we closely examine our own lives. but very few actually putting it into practise. One of the hardest lessons I learned en route was the capacity to forgive. looking good. And we definitely can’t exonerate ex-lovers for using us as a spousal punch-bag. Where I once toiled for shallow.

This has a catastrophic effect upon our physiology. Our failure to pardon manifests a resentment that grows with the passing of time. a physiological fight-or-flight. You can do it without even trying. It is not virtuous. Your contentious thought is registered by the mid-brain 43 .’ We even seem perversely proud of ourselves when we don’t forgive. but you don’t know what she did to me. Our lack of forgiveness is killing us – literally. as though it were a great virtue. To forgive! Now then. There is no great feat of strength in carrying the carcass of a long-dead argument. We also have a great tendency to rationalise our blame with inane remarks like. I believe it is a great weakness of the human spirit that forgiveness is not more widely practised. ‘I’ll never completely forgive you!’ But you can no sooner ‘partially’ forgive than you can ‘partially’ fall out of a tree. that’s a horse of a different colour.FORGIVENESS: THE HEALTHY OPTION forget!’ Or the equally unconvincing. Holding a grudge is easy. It takes strength. It becomes an internal time bomb of bitterness triggered and perpetuated by every unforgiving gesture. I can’t forgive her. You either do or you do not. ‘Yea. Every time the grudge is replayed like an old movie in our mind’s eye it activates the release of stress hormones into the blood stream. discipline and great understanding in order to forgive.

It is already estimated that the majority of all contemporary illness finds its roots in stress. if you like. even death. lungs. therefore. This means that someone who insulted you ten-years ago. bladder and bowel. as though for the very first time. adequately defend the body against infiltrating viral and cancerous cells.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD as a physical threat. This is what author Charles Handy would call ‘proper selfishness. Add to this the fact that your immune system is greatly impaired by the stress response and can’t. your body actually relives them too. and you have a recipe for disaster. But – and here’s where the problems start – because the unforgiving thought is not physical threat but simply a reminiscence. intestines. run or fight for our lives so all those redundant stress hormones lay dormant in our bodies. Even brain cells are killed by rogue stress hormones. under those circumstances. We do not. behavioural fight-or-flight is not activated.’ This exercise is not so much a means of helping others (though 44 . the best way to stop people from hurting you is to forgive them. So every time you relive past upsets (because you can’t put them to bed with a heavy dose of forgiveness). who you haven’t forgiven. a saber-toothed tiger. is still insulting you today – and you’re letting them! Logically. acting like a toxic bath for the soft internal muscles like the heart.

’ When I finally realised what I was doing to myself. I even try to forgive proactively before they even do anything to upset me. I didn’t realise that I was on a downwards spiral to ill-health. Forgive 45 . Like most things in life it is better to start small and build up. I am ashamed to admit that I was very proud of my collection of grudges and perennially laid them out on the table like favoured collectibles. I felt as light as the proverbial feather. Forgiveness needs to be localised. In my experience.FORGIVENESS: THE HEALTHY OPTION this too can be healthy) as it is a means of helping yourself. what I was letting others do to me. ‘I will never forgive. Every time I thought about my past tormentors I could literally feel the stress hormones going to work. forgiveness is the shield and sword of the gods. working as a nightclub bouncer. I held many grudges. I also felt empowered. or more specifically. I instantly let go of the past and forgave those who I had been carrying for so long. and for several years. Now I always make a point of forgiving people when they upset my apple cart. It is a great strength that should be nurtured in all people. Many people feel that forgiveness is a weakness and this discourages them from any active practise. Once you forgive a person you stop carrying them.’ and ‘one day I might even seek revenge. In my younger days. I often bragged to others that.

Start with yourself. 46 . an internal cleansing that is an integral piece of the longevity jigsaw. So if you want to stay fit for life. What ever they are. start with a little forgiveness. As far as health and fitness is concerned. We all have skeletons in our closets. forgive yourself and move on.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD the small things and gradually build up to the big ones. forgiveness is cathartic.

the staff. In a famous survey carried out in 1953 at Yale University. They want to ‘make it’ but struggle to define the vital ‘it’ part of the equation.’ Whilst goals are good and dreams are the stuff of life. neither is likely to transcend reverie without a little more detail and conviction. I admire those that aim for the top. each and every student was asked their views on a number of topics relating to the university. about ‘making it’ and ‘getting to the top. however. I always find myself asking.Chapter 9 Goals People often talk about success. 47 . the library. what they thought of the campus. People want success but they don’t know what in. ‘To the top of what?’ Ill-defined or vague goals need to be crystallised and put in print if they stand any chance at all of making it from fiction to fact.

was the follow-up survey some twenty years later when Yale repeated the exercise. you’ll probably agree. This time. they decided to throw a bit of currency at the project and find all the people from the original survey of 1953 to see if their youthful aspirations had come to fruition. Interesting. ‘How did your life turn out?’ Amazingly. in their health. Even their opinions on the campus canteen were sought. in their community and financial affairs. But not enough to write home to mum about. even disappointing. It was agreed. ‘If you have goals. In fact. They were outstandingly different from everyone else surveyed. do you write them down?’ Only ten per cent of those surveyed actually had goals and of these only a minute four per cent said they actually wrote their goals down. What was interesting.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD and the lecturers. life itself) was posed. their relationships. the four per cent who had written down their goals were all hugely successful. and after much globetrotting research the majority of those surveyed twenty years before were found and asked. Every imaginable question about life at Yale (and in fact. ‘Do you have goals?’ This question was followed by. between them 48 . rather than pose the same set of questions to the current crop of final-year students. One of the most intriguing questions asked of the final-year students was. even disturbing. The four per cent were also financially independent.

risk. They wait for providence and fortune to show them favour. commitment and sacrifice. The word ‘goal’ is tumbling from the motivational lips of just about every success guru from Deepak Chopra to Anthony Robbins. How can you ever get there if you don’t even know where ‘there’ is? If you have ever read a motivational book you’ll probably know this already. Income and lifestyle rarely exceed personal development. But the millions seldom come to those who do not develop the millionaire mentality. If you don’t have them. And they are right. the majority sit waiting for success to come to them – and for free. it is fundamental. And if you want them badly enough you’ll make that extra commitment to write them down. You need a definite destination. It makes them official. And I am not necessarily talking about money. Goals cost and for those of us unable or unwilling to pay. you don’t get them. So if you have a goal what you have to ask yourself is: 49 . But what most sellers of success fail to mention is the fact that success (in whatever form you would like it) comes at a price.GOALS they were worth more than all the other 96 per cent – those who did not write down their goals – put together. Rather than make these sacrifices and actively seek out their dreams. but about time. fulfilment is rarely forthcoming. What this should tell you is that having life goals is not just important.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Am I prepared to pay the price and become the type of person it will take to get my goal? I look at my friend Glenn. To get ‘cut-up from the gut-up’ you need to chart the right course. Diet – the ultimate discipline – is the pre-requisite of a good physique. He has the kind of rippling torso that most men dream of seeing reflected back at them in the bathroom mirror. probably only five per cent ever end up looking like Glenn. for instance. But of all the people that come to the gym looking to achieve a similar body. To build a body like Glenn you have to make sacrifices and develop a powerful will that’ll resist the Friday-night pissup/Saturday-morning fry-up scenario that follows a working week at the computer. He is in fabulous physical shape. or the port of beer-and-curry. And to show your commitment that goal needs to be written down and deadlined (time limits can be extended or shortened. if necessary). You have to get your eating down to a fine art. then have the discipline and the staying power to stick to it without deviating to the island of cake. You need to set a course from where you are to where you would like to be. Why? Because the 95 per cent are not prepared to become the type of person they need to be to get a beach physique. But very few make it because the journey 50 . They don’t want to pay the price. lots of sinewy muscle and no fat (don’t you just hate that?) He’s ripped like a skinless chicken.

Next on the course is the training.’ People set courses all the time and still fail to reach their goal. Some kid themselves that they can take out the bits they don’t like (usually diet) and still make their destination. I know a million people that workout. I’d seen detailed illustrations in books and even watched demonstrations of the throw on 51 . back where they started. Certainly the early stages are difficult when you have to change a 25-year-old cakeand-cookie habit and replace it with a high-protein/ low-fat regime. Whenever I go to the gym I see people sweating their way around the free-weights and machines. I’d watched good judo players perform the move a thousand times. or even worse. but I only know one or two with anything like a good shape. Setting the right course It is easy to say. ‘Set a course to where you want to go and you’ll get there. This is usually because they inadvertently set the wrong course and end up at the wrong destination. You might be working extremely hard but are you working in the right direction? I remember the time I wanted to develop a brilliant osoto-gari (a throwing technique in judo). It’s about the detail. But a hard workout is not just about the sweat and strain.GOALS is too arduous. working on the finer points and setting the right course. making all the right noises.

The danger of goals Goals are essential. but I was practising it wrong. those who are already where you want to be. to destruction in fact. And writing the goal down with an expected time of 52 . He knew the right course. He looked at my technique and. You could be the hardest worker in the world. it only has to be slightly out for you to end up completely wrong. when I sparred with other players. he altered my entire course. The destination was set. I practised osoto-gari thousands of times.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD instructional videos. So make sure that you set the right course and be prepared for the sacrifices that the journey demands. I have always prided myself on being a tenacious – even obsessive – trainer. I reached my goal in record time. I practised hard and daily. In fact. If you don’t know the way. I rarely pulled the throw off. Then I went to train with Neil Adams (Olympic silver medallist in judo). I got it. And hey. because I had been given the right map and wanted to get there badly enough. we’ve established this much. Consequently. presto. but my course was off. With my limited knowledge I set about achieving my goal. in altering one or two minor points. but still fail because you are hacking away in the wrong jungle. He knew the right way to do osoto-gari. I became brilliant at doing osoto-gari the wrong way. Never mistake activity for progress. ask the right people.

He was capable of more. when we fully intend with all our heart to achieve them. guess what.GOALS arrival is as pivotal as setting the right course. one of his friends at the running club. When we set goals. He asked Steve to take his place. Dave. I might not make it. risk of success and risk of change – there is also a hidden risk: Goals can be dangerous. But as well as all the obvious risks of aiming high – the risk of failure. He made five miles but at the final furlong the lad was exhausted. The next week. Steve was unsure. but a common attitude nevertheless.’ he always told me. I know I can do five. ‘But. Sometimes we aim low and. If I try for more. He set himself a goal of five miles. So what’s the danger in that? The danger occurs when we don’t set our goals high enough. but they can be very unsatisfactory in themselves. My friend Steve is a keen runner. it was double his usual distance. The other day he went out for a jog. I think you’ll agree. He didn’t think he could run ten miles. By four-and-a-half miles he was flagging and every step was an effort. ‘I’m being realistic. had to pull out of a ten-mile race. we nearly always do. Small goals are fine when they act as stepping-stones to higher ideals.’ Not the sort of mindset that smashes records. we hit low. He set five miles on his internal clock and his body fuelled him up for exactly that. 53 .

Setting achievable goals does not push and stretch our limits. killed the ten miles and had a great time doing it.’ said his friends. ‘Oh yea?’ he replied.’ Had Steve gone from a five-mile jog to the London marathon (26 miles) he might well have written a cheque that the bank could not honour. but not so high you lose sight of your goal. I would say.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD ‘Don’t worry.’ Milo was strong both mentally and physically. ‘Impossible. Paradoxically. If you can’t finish it’s not the end of the world. a historical strong man whose life goal was to carry a full-grown bull on his shoulders. He injected necessity and the organism grew to compensate. ‘Don’t set your sights so high on the first shot that you become overwhelmed.’ Dave said. He is now preparing for his first marathon. implementing standards that are just beyond our reach does. If you set your sights too low your body and mind will fuel you accordingly. So instead of making his way to the nearest 54 . ‘just set your sights on ten. Milo the Great There is a wonderful story about Milo the Great. but he knew he was not burly enough to carry a full-grown bull. ‘Watch this space. So aim higher than you think you can manage.’ Steve ran the race.

Milo – to the astonishment of all – could carry the full-grown bull on his shoulders. he grew with the bull. Milo’s strength grew to compensate. You could use the same principle to buy your dream house. Perhaps your goal is to buy your dream house (with a bull-sized mortgage). Your bull may not be a hairy creature with horns and a nose-ring (sounds like a girl I once dated). Many people have bought fabulous homes by 55 . and subsequently pyramiding his own strength to match. His legs expanded in width and strength and his torso transformed into the shape of a door wedge. Instead. rather it might be your business. It isn’t always advisable to try. For Milo. Every day Milo would go out into the yard and – after a little warm-up – lift the calf onto his shoulders and walk around with it. build your business or increase your fitness level. picking up the bull was done in pyramidic stages. a college degree or a promotion at work. you don’t have to pick up the bull right away. By picking up the bull as it grew. Day by day. you should allow your growth to be gradual and organic. Like Milo. he went out and bought himself a calf and kept it in his back garden. He used short-term goals (picking up the calf every day) to power him towards his long-term ideal. It could be anything. as the calf matured and fattened. Eventually.GOALS farmer’s field and trying to winch a horned beast onto his back.

When they get within reach of the top they rest. they scale to the summit of the mountain. Hard work? No harder than working your doo-daas off with no goal in mind. I’m not saying that this is the only way. 56 . Mountaineers do this to allow themselves recuperation and acclimatisation to new heights. If conditions are favourable. climb up more than one rung at a time. they attempt the peak. perhaps) to move up the property ladder towards their dream cottage in the country. It can be done. They make their way first to a base camp. acclimatise and then. They set themselves daily goals. acclimatise. on bad days they may not even leave the tent. they may (and often do) exceed their quota. then step by step.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD using the calf/bull principle. eat. sell it and use the profit (plus their savings. They buy a small house. You can jump steps. Goal pyramid You could even build a goal pyramid to chart your steps from short-term to long-term goals. It is all done in pyramidic steps. when the weather is clement. aiming to climb x amount of metres by nightfall. but when you do the risk rises proportionately. Others thrive on it. It’s all down to how much risk you can take. Some people crumble when danger comes aboard.

worried about his health. the information and the leadership qualities you’ll develop along the way. Follow the Yellow Brick Road In the film The Wizard of Oz. The adversity of a hard climb is what forges character. gradually started to cut the size of his dinner down a tiny bit at a time and over a long period. the Cowardly Lion wants to find courage. the Tin Man needs a heart 57 . My mum. Your whole world will change immeasurably for the better as a consequence. It was so gradual he hardly noticed. the weight fell off him. in their achievement – arriving at our destination is secondary. the tenacity. Before he knew it he was eating light and healthy meals and looking and feeling good. As the dinner sizes decreased. His selfdiscipline wasn’t up to the job. Dorothy wants to get back home to Kansas. a man who (they believe) can help them to achieve their individual goals.GOALS I remember my mum using this principle to help my dad lose weight. He was carrying a belt-busting belly that was getting unhealthy (and unsightly) but he wouldn’t hear of going on a diet. the discipline. Dorothy and her troupe of mates are seeking a common ideal – the Wizard. The greatest benefit of setting and achieving goals is the skills. as you might imagine. The real value of setting goals is not.

58 . the Scarecrow a university diploma and Dorothy the knowledge that the power to return home was in her all along. The Scarecrow develops his brain by working out intricate game plans to find and then escape the witch. in actuality they have. He gives the Cowardly Lion a medal of valour. He can’t. The Tin Man develops a heart through a multitude of kind and charitable acts. their dream. Their real goal started to manifest when they committed themselves fully to the task and agreed to pay the toll and take the risks. On the journey. flying monkeys.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD and the Scarecrow is desperate for a brain. After accidentally killing the Wicked Witch of the West (‘I’m melting. Whilst each believes they have been given their goal free of charge. the Tin Man a heart-shaped watch. free of charge. I’m melting’) they return to Oz. But he doesn’t. What the Wizard gives them amounts to little more than trinkets. The Wizard reluctantly keeps his word. He sends them on a hunt and promises to help them when they return. through their journey – first to Oz and then to kill the witch – earned it through their own efforts. the Cowardly Lion develops courage by facing his fears and protecting his friends against the witch and her army of mad. What he can and does do is give them the means to achieve their dreams. Each of them believes that the Wizard will simply give them. symbols of their courageous quest.

I don’t ask myself. Whatever your goal. ‘Can I become the kind of person it will take to get it?’ Who we become is far more important than what we get. long-term objective from the safety of my king-sized duvet. When I look at my lofty. Rather I ask myself. If we set our goals to paper and intend them to happen.GOALS Goals are as individual as fingerprints and one man’s nirvana is often another man’s nervous breakdown. there is one thing I have learned and one thing I know: We can achieve anything. mountains will move and rivers will part. we all can. 59 . nothing is beyond us. ‘Can I have this goal’ because I already know I can. I can have anything.

We forget to stop and thank God for all that we have.Chapter 10 Gratitude: a Bit of Invisible Support Sometimes we get so caught up in the maelstrom of life. 60 . depression – that we stop to appreciate just what we have. our health and the love and health of those dear to us. all that we have had and all that we will receive in the future. ambition and achievement that we fail to realise what is really important in our lives. It often seems that we don’t really appreciate our lot until it might be taken away from us. a loss. I know that I am often guilty of this and it is something that I intend to remedy because gratitude is more vital to our well-being than money or position or prospects. It is only after we hit a snag in life – an illness.

They start their day not by asking for more.GRATITUDE: A BIT OF INVISIBLE SUPPORT When I look at the people I admire – Jesus Christ. Great people don’t get themselves in a muddle (too often) and then run to prayer (like most of us) to get fixed up. but by giving thanks for what they have already received and for what they know they will receive in the future. after all. she could never have sustained herself throughout the day. is better than a pound of cure. One ounce of prevention.m. We all need a bit of invisible support.). Not only does this morning mediation give them the chance to offer gratitude. Deepak Chopra. This is how great people achieve great things. It would be unwise 61 . but it also gives them the opportunity to fuel-up – spiritually. They pray preventatively so that they don’t end up in a muddle in the first place. It’s a bit like filling your car with fuel in the morning in anticipation of the day’s journey. Gandhi and Mother Teresa – I notice that they all start their day with meditation and prayer. even – perhaps especially – when we think we don’t. The spiritually aware are not in the habit of relying entirely upon themselves to achieve great things. They rely on God and through Him all things are possible. mentally and physically – for the day. A big part of their daily ritual consists of thanking God for everything they have. from four until six a. Mother Teresa said that without her morning prayer and meditation (like Deepak Chopra she started early in the day.

‘I’ll get myself right and then I’ll change (and I mean it this time). If you are lucky you may end up broken down only yards away from a nearby garage (not too much of an inconvenience). insight. Now if we were able to employ honest perception (‘I know what 62 . But – as the saying intimates – it involves pain. all of us) end up falling back into their old ways and the pain of the past is hardly remembered. end up broken down miles from anywhere with a long and inconvenient walk to the nearest fuel station. It takes discipline.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD to just get up and drive your vehicle until it runs out of fuel. They say that pain is a good advisor. courage and a heck of a lot of self-knowledge. then before you know it you would be riding the next wave rather than being bashed against the rocks (again). while the idea is fresh in your mind.’ And then they get themselves right and they change. being more patient. destined-to-arrive tomorrow. but the change only lasts long enough to get them out of the rough and then ‘bang!’. they (me. You might. you. What I am suggesting here – and this is as much for me as it is for you – is that the change you are always threatening (better diet. and it is. But if you were to start now. I don’t know of anyone who has not reached a crisis point at least once in their lives and thought. less jealous) is far better implemented from the solid clearing of the healthy here-and-now than it is from the out-of-balance. however.

‘I’ll get myself right then I’ll change (and I mean it this time’). we could avoid the worst pain by tackling it while it is still just a niggle on the periphery of our knowing.GRATITUDE: A BIT OF INVISIBLE SUPPORT needs to be changed’) and a bit of will (‘I am strong enough to make that change’). Or you could simply wait (like the last time) to get yourself buried up to the neck in problems and then try and muster the courage to pull yourself back out again. likely with the promise that. 63 .

to the size of a small continent.Chapter 11 Have Your Cake and Eat It Go into any bookshop worth its salt and you’ll find a pile of books and magazines offering the latest lose-fat-and-still-eat-chips diet that will allow you – or your money back – to have your cake and eat it. And they all work… but only for a while. Now I don’t know about you. isn’t it? 64 . Almost as soon as you lose the pounds (sometimes stones) and your jeans stop straining at the seams. It’s depressing. the very same weight – and a bit more (for inflation. after a two-week holiday in Florida. but as a man with the propensity to grow. I presume) – returns with a vengeance and you have to make new holes in your belt. I have tried all the fad diets.

The minute I get a fry-up down my neck. When I was 19 and clothes-line thin I could empty the contents of an industrial fridge without clocking up a single extra number on the bathroom scales. When the weight is off I float around like a featherlight thing in tight fitting tee shirts tucked into bottom-hugging jeans. I only have to look at the biscuit barrel and I grow another chin. sometimes even longer. All of a sudden the nuts and crisps. At thirty my internal calorie-crunching gizmo switched to a lazy three-day week. my legs start going all Sumo. I can be good for months at a time.HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT It wouldn’t be so bad but all the really tasty stuff simply oozes fat-gut. In fact. the beers and curries started to take their toll and I developed what can only be described as a wide-load arse. I was so thin that I wanted to put on weight. nibbling on health biscuits that taste like manila envelopes. the salad and chicken renaissance lay in wait. weight gain. and my weight stays at a comfortable 13 stone nine. My food-abuse period was over. As little as a week on a take-away fest leaves me with a skincoloured bum-bag that wobbles in time with my step. though. but my in-a-hurry metabolism burnt calories as quickly as I could extract them from Kit-Kats and kormas. I take every opportunity 65 . From then on in my weight has gone up and down like a busy lift. Then I hit 30.

take-away curries. low-carb diets that leave you so hungry you start nicking food off the kids’ plates and snacking on carpet tiles. a dark cloud descends on my day. even when the wind is whistling my nipples into biker studs. high-fibre diets that have you shitting through the eye of a needle. food-combining diets that are so complicated your brain throbs like a hammered thumb and sends you racing to the nearest chippy for a carb/fat/calorie top-up. My world becomes one of chip dinners (I hide away in greasy-Joe cafes). As I said. When I’m thin. however. My selfesteem drags around behind me like a wedding train. And the apparel changes accordingly. When the weight is on. beltless trousers with the top two buttons undone. and beer and puddings that I might as well mould right onto my belly. my self-esteem rises to the rooftops. high-protein diets that turn your stools to rocks (ouch). A man needs his strength after all. wine. I have tried them all. Even sex takes a backseat because it involves nakedness and hours of holding in my belly. rationalisation. hidden by trench-coat sweatshirts that obliterate everything from the neck to the knees. And the fruit diet! What’s that all about then? I’ve been on it and no matter how hard I’ve tried I can’t make a grape look or taste like a Malteser! 66 .EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD to remove my top and bare my torso.

but it works. train every other day and you’ll keep the fat-monster at bay. Geoffrey. I’m going to heed my mum’s advice (offered to me when I hit a hefty 16 stone): ‘Walk past that chip shop. and you can never let up.HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT So what is the answer? How do I keep my sylph-like physique with all the culinary temptations constantly battling to fatten me up? After 40 years of counting calories.’ 67 . hunting for the fat content on the backs of crisp packets and watching my bungee-belly bounce backwards and forwards from six pack to party seven. Have some of what you want. but not all of what you want. It’s difficult. In the meantime. I’ve come to the conclusion that disciplined light eating for the rest of my life is the only way to stop me from looking like a doughnut. I dream that the Hereafter might be a paradoxical universe where Mars Bars and crisp sandwiches are the vital sustenance of life.

Chapter 12 Intention There has been much written of late about intention. fashioning random realities with our unskilled and unschooled thoughts. When we are in heaven we call it a fluke or a happy accident. then looking outside ourselves to praise or 68 . This is both exciting and terrifying. We are creators of denial. What you strongly intend today you are sure to live out in all your tomorrows. When we are in hell we call it ‘karmic return’ or we talk about ‘spiteful God. Most of us are not well-practised with our intentions so we tend to create our universe accidentally. Some say (and I agree with them) that intentions are the building blocks of the universe.’ The truth is neither. complete with cloud-bathing heavens and barrelscraping hells.

society. anyone. Those that take responsibility 69 . You always become a prisoner of those you blame. if you blame your ex-wife or mate or teacher. then you give them the key to your cell and await their leniency. They blame no one. to blame. If you blame God. city or town. This gives them the freedom to practise their intentions until they become expert enough to create something dazzling. People with higher levels of consciousness always place themselves at cause. This is a weak place to reside because it is so disempowering. It is easier to hunt down a culpable scapegoat than it is to take the blame onto your own shoulders. Similarly. They understand that their reality is one of their own making and if they want to change it they have only to look to the man or woman in the mirror. It is not their fault that life is shit so they look for someone. The very act of blaming gives your power over to the object of your blame. There is no darker place than the one you’re in when you’re playing the blame game.INTENTION blame when our creation makes us happy or sends us into a dizzy depression. People with a lower level of consciousness revel in the blame culture. then it means your situation will not change until God favours you. your country. if you blame the government. Those who blame do so because (deep down) they are afraid of responsibility.

I was excited because I knew I could learn by using my own inadvertent experience as a reference point.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD do so because they are excited about the possibilities of creating a new and ever-improved reality. And where the details were foggy I could borrow from the library of information that is currently available on the power of intention. And that is what I did. It was only when I took a hard and honest inventory of my life that I realised I was the creator of it all. unhappiness and penury with my very worst. I could trace every good and every bad result back to intentions – or strong and persistent thoughts – that I’d had. in both worlds. illness. I resided consecutively. wealth. And it was at this point that I got very excited. I was scared because although I realised I’d created this juxtaposition of realities. whilst at the same time creating violence. So how do you practise intention? 70 . I could become an expert and I could practise as much as I wanted. before I accepted responsibility. That made my reality very unpredictable. Personally. In my time I have created health. I could learn from my own experience. sometimes concurrently. I wasn’t exactly sure how. happiness and material possessions with my very best intentions. It was at this point that I got very scared.

until I was 71 . I drilled and drilled and drilled the techniques until I was expert. the Koran. Not just your own intention.INTENTION First you have to accept that intention is a creative force. with study and diligence. Buddhism’s basic tenant is that we create our own universe. It is in the Bible. if you desire. I talked judo. but the universal intention that you click into when you practise. I actually lived and breathed judo. But more than anything else I practised judo. it is in the Bhagavad-gita. You practise intention the same way as you would practice anything that you want to become expert in. Once you accept the premise the training can begin. Search out the truth from another source. I placed myself in front of world-class teachers. I watched judo. and the Tao Te Ching. To become a strong judo player I read everything on judo. What The Bleep Do We Know or look at Deepak Chopra’s work on the science of intention). until I could close my eyes and feel them. If you don’t at least have an intellectual understanding of your own power then you are doomed to spin in an ever increasing cycle of random creation where life will bring you joy one day and a punch in the eye the next. Even new science is catching up with theories of Quantum mechanics (see the film.

any of Deepak Chopra’s works. You start by investing in the information and instruction. reading it. watch it and live it until eventually they manifest all the fine and grizzly details in their own bodies. For me. then practise what you have learned and be the proof that it works. There is nothing like actual hands-on experience to cement a truth in place. 72 . intention is about everything I do. read it.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD the techniques and could handle judo players on the international scene. If I want to create good health then I intend good health by seeing it. attend the seminars (if you don’t invest in you who will?). They think illness. they see and fear illness. you will rise rapidly into the higher echelons. Buy the books (my book. you will get weekend results. I dwell on wealth until I start to draw it. talking it and doing all the things that constitute good health. then I do the same thing. If you practise four or five times a week. or the opportunities to make it. The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe by Lynne McTaggart). The Elephant and the Twig. hearing it. you’ll start to see some decent movement. If it is wealth I am after. Intention is no different. People that make themselves ill practice intention without realising it. If you are a weekend player. they talk it. If you make it your life. into my life.

how much more could she manifest if she schooled and disciplined her thought and put her intention to work on good things? People that create great wealth click into the same power. if her mind was so powerful that it could manifest blindness. as soon as she got the results. She became so convinced she had a brain tumour that she went blind in her left eye. She was finally taken into the hospital for a brain scan. When the actor Jim Carey was going through a very difficult phase as a stand-up comedian he drove up to Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood hills and decided that he was no longer prepared to work for peanuts. Interestingly. When she was younger and her mind was undisciplined she was always suffering with psychosomatic illnesses that would often lay her up for weeks. She even convinced herself once that she had a brain tumour. sometimes months at a time. She thought about it all day long. She read about tumours in her medical books and read articles about the symptoms in medical journals until. It wasn’t always that way. she actually started to manifest these symptoms herself. He was no longer prepared to be an also-ran stand-up comedian dying on stage night after night in 73 . the sight in her left eye returned. The scan was clear. in a short time. Then she had a thought. There was nothing physically wrong with her.INTENTION I have a friend of a friend who is a very successful woman. She is at the top of her field. She had no tumour.

hearing. His intention was so solid that he wrote it down and then never lost the faith until his dream was a reality. He was wrong. you can become an authority. but he wasn’t earning $10 million. Intention is a very learnable technique. He vowed that he would be earning that amount per film within ten years. Ten years later he was an actor in Hollywood. feeling. You practise by doing. Whether you intend to paint the front room or climb Mount Everest.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD front of a partisan crowd. He was earning $20 million. and doing involves thinking. If you can learn to drive then you can learn to intend. seeing. So he took his bank book out and wrote himself a cheque for $10 million. Why not try? 74 . smelling and intuiting your intention until your thoughts coagulate and become manifest. And if you intend enough. the process is the same.

How brave. The praise comes at us like a sickly sweet chocolate waterfall and we let it shower over us. We get a pat on the back. how very fucking invigorating. a trophy. a medal. But how brave are we? 75 . how exciting. physically-stretching. pain-inducing endeavour where we venture out bravely to our furthest limits. Looking In Another marathon. another black belt.Chapter 13 Looking Out. The elements are conquered. It’s good to be brave. the next unchartered landscape that we can not only attack but also tell our friends that we are going to attack so that they can flatter us with their admiration. another gruelling. admiration from our peers and awards stacked up on our shelves. We take a little rest then onto the next extreme challenge.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD

Do we choose the fights that we know we can win (even though we tell ourselves how extremely dangerous they are?) Are we guilty of racing out there pretending to look for the unchartered when actually we know that all of it is chartered and – although certainly physically demanding – has been done before? In order to be really brave, to be really extreme, to be really daring and adventurous and to really (I mean really) look death in the eye and take our hearts (and our arses) in our hands, we need never do another climb, race another marathon, face another black belt panel or fight another monster on the nightclub door. In fact, I’d say that if we really want to stop pretending, we don’t need to leave the city that we live in, the town, the road, the street, the house, the room or even our own skin, ever again. If we really want to be brave we just need to close our eyes, stop going out and start going in. Fuck Nanga Parbat, fuck the one-hundred-man kumite, fuck the marathon across the desert or the triathlon across broken glass in bare feet. Fuck all of that because it is old hat, it has all been done. That old parrot of a challenge is dead. It is all boringly predictable compared to the real challenge of going inside and taking a cold, hard, honest look at yourself – and then changing the bits that no longer serve. Actually, even before that it would be a start to admit 76

LOOKING OUT, LOOKING IN

the fact that the man or woman that you look at in the bathroom mirror every day is deeply flawed. The man or woman with ten black-belt certificates in ten different styles from ten different masters who the outside world thinks is granite tough is not even tough enough to leave the job they hate, the spouse who treats them badly, the city that no longer nourishes them and the habits that bleed them dry because they are frightened of real change. Real change is full of uncertainty. The man who impressed the living shit out of everyone by climbing ten peaks in ten months and who lost ten toes to frostbite is not even strong enough to resist temptation. Instead, he loses his integrity by sleeping with his best mate’s wife. For a five second spurty tingle of cloudy liquid, he loses his soul. Most of us think we are tough but most of us are not even tough enough to deal with the greed and envy in our gut, the panic and fear in our chest, the repressed rage that is hooked and fish-boned into the flesh of our throats or the jealousy that rages in our heads. We feel tough but we can’t control what we eat and what we drink and what we ingest. We feel strong yet we let our thoughts kick sand in our faces. We feel manly and yet we fear to cry. We claim power and yet we lack even the power to change. So we go out, we do courses, we listen to lectures, we take yoga (five different styles), we lift weights, 77

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD

or go to step class or learn Qui Gung or Tai Chi. We read the Bible, we devour the I-Ching or memorise the Bhagavad-gita. When we feel spiritual we quote Lao Tzu and when we feel angry we fire invectives from Sun Tzu. We talk about the Upanishads (‘What, you haven’t read the Upanishads?’), we meditate, contemplate, whirl like a dervish, chant, have homeopathy, get our feet massaged, have our scalps fingered by a dark-skinned chip fryer from Bolton, do the tarot, have our runes read, visit spiritual healers, sun worship, go on a fucking retreat and talk to fucking trees. We go out and we do it all. And that’s the point. We are going out but we’re not going in. Out there is the path that is so well-travelled that the ground is flat. There is only one path that is not only less travelled, but not fucking travelled at all. That is that one true path that leads us into the murky quarry, the slushy cerebral dumping ground where the decomposing (but still very alive) bodies of our pasts lie waiting not only for their reckoning, not only for their release date, not only for their say but for their redemption. It is hard to look at what you did, what was done to you, how you were treated and how you treated others. It is hard to look the many versions of the old you in the eye and say, ‘Actually, I don’t like you. I don’t like what you are, what you did. I don’t like what you didn’t do. I don’t like what you became. 78

but it gets even harder. That’s a mountain to climb. I don’t understand you. you have to face them and say. Climb the mountain if it is a workout you are looking for. ‘I forgive you.’ Do the marathon if it serves you. I let me (all of me) go. To ensure the release of these trapped entities you don’t just have to acknowledge them and look them in the eye.LOOKING OUT. But if you really want peace. I let them go. 79 . LOOKING IN I don’t like what you allowed yourself to become. that is a fearsome one-hundredman kumite (each opponent a version of the old you with a grudge to bear and a bloody axe to grind). stop working out and start working in.’ That’s difficult. I forgive them.

he said it was fear. He said he liked doing the work that frightened him. Most of us spend our days looking for comfort and avoiding discomfort. In fact. The work that scared him most was the work he wanted to do.Chapter 14 Night-travellers I thought you might be interested in a conversation I had at the weekend with my writer friend. The challenge to him and to Paul was not in just facing down the 80 . This means that we avoid fear at all costs. When I asked Paul what it was that most drew him to a new project. Paul Abbot. he didn’t do it because fear was the key ingredient in making great television (or great anything). Ray Winstone said a similar thing to me when we were filming Bouncer. he said that if the work didn’t scare the crap out of him.

break off its four corners or – if you are really courageous – dive into it head first and see what happens. It is not that these people do not feel fear.NIGHT-TRAVELLERS fear. You might be surprised to find that fear is not the enemy you always thought it to be. take a step towards it. They feel it just the same. The people who see red lights as green. creep up on it. Light and knowledge are given to those brave enough to turn and face their fears. people who go into the night and hunt down their fears. People like Paul and Ray are what the poet Rumi called ‘night-travellers’. Most of us walk around thinking that we are the only people in the world who feel fear. So. Because of this we avoid things that frighten us. what it is that you are avoiding? What is it that you fear? Maybe now is the time to be brave and turn into the dark. They do this because (as Rumi said) the moon shines on night-travellers. It is only that they change their perception of fear. those who lean into the sharp edges are the very people that become ultra successful. sometimes even more acutely than everyone else. They learn to love the adrenalin and they turn that raw energy into success. You may be even more surprised to find that buried within that fear is a 81 . which means we stop growing. but in using the fear as alchemistic base metal to make gold.

Courage is the killer of weeds like fear. that molten metal of fear inside you turns to gold. It is nourished by those who turn and run. look it in the eye and dare it to do its worst.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD golden nugget of information that can’t be found anywhere else on this earth. Then watch your threedimensional demon turn into a two-dimensional cartoon and quickly disappear. Fear feeds on your terror. Be brave. And when the fear rears its ugly head. Make the decision. When you stand and endure. Be brazen. Be a night-traveller! 82 . Start now.

Chapter 15 Reciprocal Returns The lad that was visiting my master class was young. he was completely out of his depth. Not only was he getting tapped out. After the session he asked me where he had gone wrong. I could tell by his face (dispirited). To be frank. defeated walk) and his eyes (they hit the ground like dropped marbles) that he’d expected a little more of himself. maybe 22. He knew his way around the mat as far as the ground work was concerned but he was getting tapped out again and again by a succession of my instructors. He knew (he later confided) that my class was tough and that the fighters were top drawer but he thought he might at least be able to hold his own. and very fit. I wasn’t sure. his gait (shoulders hunched. I watched him fight three or four times and all I could see was that 83 .

’ he replied (a little too keenly) ‘I train twice a week. He was training recreationally and expecting professional results. ‘You are training twice a week.’ I told him. This problem does not just confine itself to the martial arts. Footballers who train on a Wednesday and play on a Sunday but dream of kicking a premiership ball in front of 50. these guys are training twice a day. ‘Oh.’ My visiting martial artist was making the same mistake as many.’ I remember thinking: Twice a week! Without fail! I smiled. This is a bit like planting cabbage in your garden and expecting roses in the summer.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD he was out-gunned by better players than himself. The writing world (similarly) is full of part-time hacks that throw out a 84 .000 screaming fans on a Saturday afternoon. I was confused so I decided to do a bit of probing. Without fail. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why there was such a disparity between his ability and that of my people. Painters who imagine that three hours at the easel is going to turn them into the next David Hockney. hoping that his training routine might shed some light on the issue. ‘How often do you train?’ I asked. By Monday night they’ve already done your week’s quota of training. ‘Well that’s your problem. Fair-weather golfers who get their clubs out every summer and then wonder why their handicap remains a handicap. I see the same attitude in all walks of life.

And its mandate is very clear: Step up. banging in the minimal investment and then sitting around waiting for the floodgates of great returns to open up for them. And when it doesn’t materialise they look outside of themselves and blame. This is good news and bad. I am amazed by the amount of people I see who are treading water. bad news because those that want to change what they are getting without changing what they are giving have a lot of stepping up to do. It means that you can have anything if you are prepared to do the work and handle the pressure. This (I have found) is a universe that gives out what it gets in. or shut up! 85 . profit without investment and reward without risk.RECIPROCAL RETURNS weekend script and then bitch because Hollywood does not recognise their genius. The law of reciprocal returns is very exciting. People want gain without pain. Good because it means that anyone who invests their time diligently can expect great returns. The returns are entirely reciprocal.

My sojourn on this globe is not a long one. There is a fair chance that you are suffering right now and are looking for balm. a medicine. so I don’t really want to spend any of it suffering unless I can profit from the experience. 86 . maybe one century if I am blessed. As a man that has suffered a lot I am no different to anyone else. I want to understand the nature of my suffering and replace it with a heavy dose of peace. maybe a chant – that might help ease your pain. I want my suffering to be for a reason. something – a word. then I at least want to make sense of it.Chapter 16 Suffering We are all suffering. if my suffering is unavoidable. a sentence. a premise. Nietzsche said that if we know the why we can endure almost anything. We can all endure suffering if we know why. If I can’t do this. an idea.

drugs. left my country. Instead I found direction in the guise of a finger that pointed not East. Deeper still. The suffering that we bring on ourselves. my body. there are two kinds of suffering. actually even left my body in search of the pain panacea. From my limited understanding. in books or conversations with gurus. or worse still. but back to Coventry. and the suffering that is inflicted up on us by circumstance. I found no such relief (other than the temporary inspiration that good information affords). we should (if at all possible) eradicate. not to the temples of Tibet or the churches of Rome. it pointed back to that dark nothingness that pervades all things when I close my eyes. Why? Because suffering is the body’s way of telling us that something is wrong. There is no joy and little 87 . denial) we might never know what the suffering means.SUFFERING In my bid for knowledge. it could lead us into a long life of unnecessary pain. Every time I try to run I am encouraged to wait and see. back to my house. drink. Have a good look at the discomfort that resides there. sex. Every time I go out I am directed back in. The suffering that we inflict on ourselves. I (like most) left my city. That never knowing could kill us. And if we keep covering the message with artificial blankets (painkillers. my garden. Outside. Every time I hide I am advised to try visibility instead. Go inside.

angry. we need clinical self-honesty. If your suffering is health related. no one can let us down. under-educated. depressed. a PHD. No one can offend us. disappoint us. perhaps because we are too lazy to change. wealth and happiness lies not with the hospitals and doctors. an MA. If you are really honest. become the most 88 . why not make it your life’s mission to understand your body. poor. greedy. find out how to get well and stay well. no one can abandon us. not with the government and certainly not with other people. The responsibility for my health. perhaps because we do not know any better. Nearly all suffering can be traced back to the self. The moment we rely on outside forces for our well-being. Become an expert. make us envious. Do we enjoy being a martyr to our suffering? At one time or another I have fallen into all of these categories. But I have since learned to recognise that I am the centre of my universe. fat or unfit. if you place yourself at cause and expect nothing from anyone. cheat us. To stop this kind of suffering. if you own everything. most of your suffering will end.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD gain in suffering unnecessarily. do a degree. The responsibility lies with you. we become their prisoners. make us jealous. These are all circumstances that we readily accept. and if you can stop your negative thoughts.

put yourself into an apprenticeship with the wealthy and the rich. earn your worth and ease your suffering. then put that information into use and be the proof that it works. Blame is the predictable response of the masses and once employed it knows no end. It can be done. Scour the internet. Study business and make yourself a man of great economic knowledge. If your suffering is mental. The information is all out there. make it your life’s work to understand the cerebral schematic and put that information to work for you. make that information public so that you not only ease your own suffering. invest in books. who do you think is going to change your situation if you don’t? There is no one coming to your rescue. These options are open to everyone. lectures and courses. If your suffering is economic. Don’t blame the government because of the poor minimum wage. much of it free.SUFFERING knowledgable person on the planet with regards to your health. It has been done. But information will not drop out of the sky. Don’t blame any outside forces. ask them their secrets. In fact. You need to hunt it down. Don’t blame the conglomerates for stealing too much of the pie. you ease the suffering of all those who find themselves in your situation. History is brimming 89 . Study economics. So get out there. Talk to the psychologically robust. There are no more heroes.

Whether you are lying in bed sweating and manically depressed at three a. I would say that personal development is a natural by-product of enduring pain. I am going to learn as much from it as I can. It has been proven by psychologists that the symptoms of manic depression can be as frightening to the sufferer as climbing out of a dug-out with a bayonet to engage in mortal combat. The Sufi poet Rumi said that the chickpea only got its flavour from being boiled in the pot.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD with folks that have taken responsibility for their own suffering and have not only succeeded in easing their pain. What I have learned from my suffering is that I don’t like it much. that is. In fact. When it tried to jump out to escape its suffering..’ 90 . Much of the greatest stuff I have learned in the last 46 years has come directly from periods of suffering. your suffering will feel as though it knows no depths.m. the cook pushed it back in with the ladle and said. if you are wise enough to look inside rather than outside. But if I can’t get out of it immediately. but have become massively successful at the same time. or you are a Holocaust survivor (like him). ‘You think I’m torturing you. Austrian neurologist Viktor Frankl said that all suffering is relative. I am boiling you to make you sweet. I’m not.

This doesn’t mean that you just accept suffering. Pain is a great adviser. In these circumstances. Suffering is wise counsel. The answer is always hidden within the problem. my recommendation is that you take it. You must be worthy of your suffering. Your suffering wants you to see something. they offer you great secrets. He said that there is great liberty in suffering. It is an opportunity offered to few people. again and again. that we have the opportunity in our darkest moments to reach a higher consciousness through endurance. leave your suffering behind. Right now if you can. you will find yourself back in the middle of your suffering. then the 91 . to sit in it and examine it minutely. Sometimes you can’t. If you are brave enough to look closely at them. Handle it. if you are brave enough to do that.SUFFERING When we are suffering. until you get it. If you go into your pain. change and adapt. If there is a way out. Do what is necessary. we all tend to look for an escape. but leave it behind. but you endure it stoically while actively looking for a solution. If you don’t. Frankl suggests doing something radical. My experiences have led me to the same conclusion. Address it. Once you are in possession of the vital information you need. Take responsibility. Do not turn away. make decisions. But heed the advise on offer.

Suffering ceases to be suffering when we truly lose our fear of suffering. No one can help you with this. Your life-imposed suffering can offer you transcendence.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD self-inflicted suffering will disappear (because it only feeds on fear). you will draw assistance from every living corner of the universe. It’s up to you. 92 . Once you take responsibility for yourself.

This is why (and when) I started to experiment with very close range combat. Yet all around me there were martial artists practising 93 . pugilism suited me. because punching is the range most consistently available in a real fight and. It didn’t seem to matter whether you were fighting on four acres of mown grass or three-square-feet of pissy pub toilet. There was rarely any room for manoeuvre. the fight always ended up very close and personal. the thing that struck me most (scared the shit out of me actually) was how restrictive a real confrontation is when it comes to space. I realised way back then that in a fight you very rarely had more than 18 inches of space to work in. culturally. I specialised in punching.Chapter 17 The Art of Restriction When I first started working as a club doorman all those years ago.

a toilet cubicle or a farmer’s field. And you do. etc. And then there was 94 . with their backs against the wall – from anywhere that massively restricted their movements. To try to mend this gaping hole in contemporary combat.’ By using this technique I was able to summon instant power from any position and at any range. from on their backs.). we started to develop massive relaxation through necessity. Very quickly. their bellies. Because of restriction of movement and space. tension and stiffness completely impede any power. so that (for instance) if I was in a phone booth or a toilet cubicle or on a packed dance floor. chair. even the most restrictive. I developed what I called ‘restrictive training. From restricted positions you are unable to employ hip twist or use momentum to garner power. When you have no range of movement. This restriction forces you to ‘find’ something else. I encouraged my students to punch from seated positions (floor. I was able to draw an explosion of power from (seemingly) nothing. I could summon tremendous power and explosion without even moving my feet. for me and for anyone else interested in taking it to the concrete. kneeling positions.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD in a range of three feet or more and using techniques that would not be possible in a live encounter. We started to employ joints (the more the better) in the technique. Whether I was in a car or a phone booth.

Just as restriction can trigger 95 .’ the Japanese ‘qui. Then there is that certain something that only restriction training can develop. Restrictive training helps you to become accident prone. But being able to punch hard is not what excites me about restrictive training.’ It has as many names as there are cultures. it also acts as an accelerator. Personally I don’t want to place a name to it or throw a shroud of mystique around it. I can’t claim to know what the energy is other than an accident. You realise very quickly that intent of power is power. The Chinese call it ‘chi. an explosion at the end of the technique that cannot be brought or bartered. It works so well that folks have to start pulling their punches because the power they are generating is too much for their bones (they start picking up injuries) and too much for the bones of their opponents. one of the first things that starts to grow when space is at a premium. an indefinable energy. Not only does restrictive training force people to find some other source of power than the one that they normally employ. You won’t find it in a book or on a tape or even in a class. What I really love about it is the fact that it enables you to view life restrictions from a totally different and positive perspective. It would be no exaggeration to say that I get people punching twice as hard within one session using this method.THE ART OF RESTRICTION intent. people become big hitters much faster than normal.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD

the release of chi in physical training so can restriction in life (if viewed correctly) enable you to discover a reservoir of hitherto untapped power. Lance Armstrong was given a life-threatening restriction called cancer. He had a choice. Lie down and take it and probably die within a year, or find something that would not only enable him to heal, but also give him the power to win the Tour de France an unprecedented eight times. Do you know that he was so dominant in the Tour that the organisers changed the route several times to give the other riders a chance at winning? I was bullied at school and suffered badly from depression. I had a choice. Accept this and live a life of mediocrity and fear, or find something inside me, some force, some power that would not only elevate me above my playground tormentors, but also take me to the world stage in martial arts and in writing. Everyone reading this is restricted in one way or another. It might be a health issue or a relationship problem, it might be money or fear. Your restriction could be that you are without direction or hope. If you are like most people (I hope you are not), you are probably looking outside of yourself for someone to blame. If you have the courage to stop projecting and look inside youself you might be surprised to find that there is an infinite amount of power available to you within the very restriction you are trying to escape. 96

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Many people (I count myself as one of them) go into life and search out restriction in order that they might grow. They seek out tough martial arts schools where they are at the bottom of the class, difficult jobs where they feel out of their depth, situations that scare them, places (inside and out) that expose their cracks. Some people are really brave and restrict themselves with the little things that make the biggest difference – things like diet, personal discipline, counselling, and psychotherapy. Others (and I also include myself in this group) have no need to go in search of restriction because restriction has been thrust upon them by illness, money or family problems. Either way, your route to the stars is not to turn your back on restriction and kick and scream and wish it gone, but rather it is to turn into it, grab your spade of courage and dig deep. Somewhere within the problem you are facing right now is the answer that you have been looking for your whole life.

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Chapter 18

The Blame Trap
As a species we have the power to change the world (certainly our own world). Of this I have no doubt. In fact, I am the living embodiment of my ‘live-it-now and do-it-all’ philosophy. I live my life in the creation business. I create my world. I love every minute of it. Thus far I have managed to make manifest every desire I have set my intention on. This is not meant to sound smug. I see myself as a very ordinary person who has managed to liberate himself from a life of unnecessary toil. If I can do it, believe me, anyone can. I measure my accomplishment not by the balance in my bank (though lots of noughts can be very pleasing), but by the fact that when I get up in the morning and when I go to bed at night, I feel happy. That’s what makes me a success. 98

THE BLAME TRAP As a child I always dreamed of making my living as a writer. to garden. If you blame the environment. If you can’t do what you want to do because you wife says so. you give her all your power. As an adult that is exactly what puts bread on my table from one day to the next. ‘Is this what I really want to do with my life?’ This is especially true if you feel you have no other choice. you’re stuck where you are. their wife. one I used (to death) as a younger man. As long as what you do makes you happy then it would be fair to say you are a success. Your idea of nirvana may be – and very likely is – entirely different from mine. It does exactly what it says on the tin. That means that until she says yes. you 99 . their environment. It’s when you spend your life doing the things you don’t like that the Monday morning feeling stretches through until Friday afternoon and Sundays are a dread because they precede Monday. This very statement. of course. or to teach but they can’t because their life. the kids. is very subjective. their circumstances – even God – won’t allow it. to sculpt. That’s when you find yourself thinking. It is probably the most over-used and certainly the most disempowering combination of words you could ever make the mistake of employing. Success. is a self-fulfilling prophecy. circumstance or your upbringing. the mortgage. People are forever telling me that they would love to write.

The reason I know this is because I have fallen into the same trap more times than I care to remember. blame and self-pity. my lot was never my fault (is it ever?) The answer is as simple as a Greek drama. then you have to ask yourself. Admit ownership of your future then set about building a palatial existence that makes you happy. you’re glued to mediocrity. it means that. As a fledgling. again. It takes bollocks of cast-iron to take the reins but if you want to trail-blaze then riding shotgun is not where it’s at. ‘The money!’ 100 . You probably spend two thirds (at least) of your waking life at work. then by definition you are exactly that. and by extension. Two-thirds! Now if you don’t love the bones off your job. makes all those you love happy also. if they don’t have to drag you away from the office kicking and screaming at the end of each day because you want to do more. of course. If you believe you are powerless (the moment you fall into the blame trap you are powerless). I hated my lot but. I spent my days wallowing in procrastination. Think about the job you do for one moment.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD give all your power over to these inanimates. ‘Why am I there?’ Just hope that your first answer is not. if you are not inspired to the point of exhilaration about the nuts and bolts of your current employment. until they favour you. And. Take back the responsibility for your own creative power.

You see. it has to be hard. I hated it to pieces. sweeping around a metaphoric lathe. ‘but (the obligatory BUT) it’s really hard. But I like unconventional. Now I enjoy my life so much I don’t want to sleep at night. I have become comfortable with discomfort because discomfort is a sign that I am growing. I want to be out there experiencing everything. let’s keep things in perspective here. for sure. You can’t temper a blade without putting it through a forge. I thrive on the unpredictability and (if I am being honest here). I don’t want to be stuck in the middle of some cornflake-size comfort zone. I love being overwhelmed. when you love what you do it stops being work and becomes fun. My working life is unconventional certainly.’ you might say. working your brain into mush 101 .THE BLAME TRAP I am emphatic about this message so please don’t think me conceited when I tell you that I love my life. It wasn’t always this way. I want to be precariously balanced on some craggy precipice where I can see it all. I love being me. ‘Yea. and sometimes it scares the living shit out of me. I spent the first half of my life living other people’s idea of normal. unpredictable definitely. I agree. even out of my depth. What’s the use of a blue ribbon when you haven’t even run the race? It is difficult. but please.’ Of course it’s hard. I like being scared. Carrying a hod on a building site is back-breakingly hard.

The moment we think that we lack this power our thoughts make it so. especially the ones you despise. you can sit down at the end of another satisfying day and think.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD on a computer everyday can be hard with a capital H.) If we don’t like it. It’s what we do on a daily basis. even if it is just the fact that we do not choose to change where we are.’ We are where we are in life through choice. (Oh yes we are. ‘If you think you can or you think you can’t. when you are hacking away in the right jungle. we have the God-given power to reinvent ourselves. We all know about hard. that entails bargaining two-thirds of your life just to make the mortgage is harder than a big bag of hard things.’ 102 . At least when your sweat is vocational. Someone dead famous (so famous I can’t remember his name) once said (and he was right). ‘This is what I really want to do with my life. you are right. Any job.

But I don’t judge it either. Before I recount the lesson. Actually that is not entirely accurate. I do like pornography. it drains my energy. well. Let’s say that I am highly aroused by pornography. it is my genes. I haven’t for many years.Chapter 19 The Pornographic Wasp If I told you that it was a wasp that taught me the dangers of pornography you’d probably accuse me of being a honeycomb short of the full hive. but it is true. In fact. I don’t really like it because. I don’t read it. Sometimes it completely disempowers me. I have a confession to make. I don’t like porn because it is an addiction and 103 . I let it go around about the same time that I stopped drinking alcohol. I don’t entertain it at all. So I don’t watch it anymore. I am highly aroused by it because it is innate. like all addictions.

you closed the door to all your addictions. For me. who used this method of abstention to change the course of human history (no less). He believed that each of us has one major addiction and that when you closed the door to that one. alcohol. Most people are infected with at least one of these.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD addictions are prisons for the weak of will. it is all about mastering my body and mind through the control of self (all growth starts with the self). At the time of his death he had some three hundred million followers. pornography and people pleasing. So my issue with pornography is neither a moral nor ethical one. I want to be strong and I want to be free. And when you controlled yourself you literally controlled the world. some people have them all. and when we kill those addictions we win our power back. And when we have our power back we can do anything we like with it. (Our main addictions in this society are drugs. The first and best and most immediate way to control the self is via the senses. 104 . The Kabbalah teaches us that all our power. and I tackled (and continue to tackle) my senses through the deliberate slaughter of my addictions.) It is a trick that I learned from Gandhi. gambling. Killing your addictions opens the door to freedom. I won’t be weak neither will I be prisoner to my senses. Those who are heavily addicted are prisoners to their addiction. all our wealth is locked into our addictions.

But with something as powerful as sex (especially for the sexually-profligate male who has about a million years of procreational conditioning in his genes) moderation (I believe) is an untenable philosophy. It is small wonder then that people who initially indulge light flirtation with porn quickly progress to the hardcore. Like any drug you indulge. psychology and spirituality and suddenly find myself in the erotica section flicking though the pages of porn made to look like art. ‘Is this something I can indulge or will it always be an addiction looking for a host?’ We all 105 . mutations that no longer resemble the procreational act of intercourse with a loving partner. often dangerous. I convinced myself that a little bit of porn was OK as long as I kept control of it.THE PORNOGRAPHIC WASP This is what my friend the wasp taught me. The question I asked myself was. When you find yourself doing things against your own will. I always justified it to myself as ‘just something blokes did’ until my appetite grew more and more controlling and started to threaten my integrity. It got so that it was difficult for me to walk down the street without checking out (and imagining what I might do with) the curves of every shapely female that happened to pass by. Like most people. you have to start asking yourself a few questions. I’d go into book shops to purchase works on philosophy. each injection needs to be stronger and sooner than the last to get the same buzz.

I felt shit afterwards. Because I no longer felt that I had a choice in the matter. I indulged it. closed my eyes and asked for a sign. It needed to be stopped. So I put down the empty glass. because an addiction that is alive is always an addiction that is a threat. Their flippancy has (or will) cost them dearly.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD think we can indulge and flirt around the edges of our addictions. It is a true story. I kept rationlising and telling myself that ‘a little bit won’t do you any harm.’ Deep down I knew that the little bit was getting bigger and bigger. many their lives. I have many friends who have not given their addictions the respect they demand. I sat in my garden drinking a fruit juice and I did what I always do when I need an honest answer. And weak. I knew that I wanted to lose this addiction but I just couldn’t find enough reason to stop. When I opened my eyes 106 . I am saying that it will imprison you (whilst letting you think that you are still free). their health and their relationships because a flirtation with fire set light to their whole lives. others their liberty. but deep down we know that really we can’t. And this is where the wasp comes in. The urge came on. Many famous folks have ruined their careers. Whilst I am not saying that porn will kill you. I’d just indulged in a porn fest (even though I really didn’t want to) and was feeling… controlled. Some lost their jobs. This is not a metaphor. It had become a habitual cycle.

he hovered. each time more confident. when he was ready. flew off. Arrogant now. When he returned the third time he was more confident. 107 . It landed briefly on the glass. had a look around. stole a residue of my fruit juice and flew away. He flew straight into the glass. took several globs of juice and. The small indulgence had quickly turned into a life-threatening addiction. my wasp flew straight to the bottom of the glass where there was a pool of thick juice. each time going a little deeper into the glass and each time drinking in a little more than the last. He stood right in the middle of it and drank and drank and – started to drown. I smiled as I watched the wasp return again and again. Until the final time. Within a few brief seconds the wasp was back. He was still being careful. He was up to his little knees in juice and could not lift himself back out. landed. took a glob of juice from just inside the glass and flew away again.THE PORNOGRAPHIC WASP there was a wasp hovering just above my glass. I got the message. I never indulged my addiction again. I tipped the glass so that the wasp – having kindly passed on its wisdom to me – could fly away to live another day. each time staying a little longer.

Chapter 20

The Power of Books
To my pleasure, I have discovered the hidden power of books. What we need to help us rise above the crowd is information. Actually, I stand corrected. I know plenty of people with information by the bucketload but for whatever reason they do not use it. I also know many people who use the information they have, but use it wrongly. Aspiring to achieve wisdom is the correct way to use information. One of the best ways to collect information (and of course inspiration and aspiration) is books. When I spend thousands of pounds on books, I consider it an investment in me, the person most likely to get me where I want to be. In books, we have the opportunity to access the knowledge of a thousand life times and assimilate it until it becomes us. I am 108

THE POWER OF BOOKS

the living embodiment of what I have experienced and a big part of what I have experienced has been gained through the medium of reading. I always tell my little lad (when he is struggling to get into a book) that readers are leaders. Small libraries make great men. It is something that I believe emphatically. I have yet to meet a hugely successful person that wasn’t a voracious reader. I even took a speed-reading course so that I could get through more material. It’s all out there just waiting for you, and if you go to a public library, it’s absolutely free. Can you imagine that, all that knowledge, all the secrets, all that information for the price of a few beers and a curry? I’ve spent up to £50 on a single book if it was the one that I was looking for. People often say that the only way out of the rat race is through football or sport or pure luck. It’s not true. The best way out is through the library. Mention any famous name and I’ll almost guarantee that you’ll be able to find their whole life – highs, lows, successes, failures, likes and dislikes, and the secrets to their success – between the pages of a library book. Now if that is not offering it all up on a plate for your inspiration, I don’t know what is. I find it absolutely incredible that you can go into any bookshop (or even the Internet) and buy the lives of the greatest men and women in history. You can find out why and how single individuals changed the course of history. 109

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One man, William Wallace, witnessed the slaughter of a whole village of people and decided that he was going to do something about it. He told his wife. She said, ‘But you’re only one man.’ That one man changed the course of history with his strength and courage. Have you read about this great and saintly woman, Mother Teresa? She cared for thousands and touched the hearts of millions. Just an ordinary girl who did extraordinary things; a village girl who touched the whole planet. What about the courage of Churchill, the tenacity of Thatcher, the wisdom of the Dalai Lama, the power and love of Sai Baba, the focus and dreams of Bill Gates, the rise and fall of Bonaparte? The list is absolutely endless. And they are all there waiting in books to point you in the right direction. All these extraordinary men and women saying, ‘Let me tell you what I’ve learned in my life.’ What an incredible opportunity. I am sitting here with a book of drawings by Saul Steinberg staring up at me. Steinberg isn’t dead; he is alive and kicking in my office. He sat here, alive in his work, saying, ‘What can I do for you Geoff? What can I teach you about my life through my work? Ask me, I’m here.’ Did you know that Escher lives with me? You’re damn right he does! And he only cost me about 20 quid. It was an absolute steal, I have to tell you. A steal. He is here with me now. All his drawings 110

But in his book he said. I remember first looking at his work and being filled with awe. The very fact that the great Escher can doubt his own work. ‘Listen. Mr Gandhi has taken 111 . ‘I’ve absolutely no reason to moan about the “success” of my work. Geoff. makes me feel that I am not on my own and that it is OK to have bad days. The book cost eight pounds. There wasn’t a day when I didn’t think. can feel like giving it all up. Yet this one book has given me more direction and more hope than any amount of money could have. ‘we all feel insecure at times.’ he tells me.THE POWER OF BOOKS and all his words. And yet I’m plagued by an immense feeling of inferiority. a desperate sense of general failure. nor about the lack of ideas for there are plenty of them. When I am feeling a little insecure about my work he is there to help me. “Is this any good?”’ Escher has taught me that insecurity driven into your work is what makes it great. Where do these crazy feelings come from?’ I have Gandhi’s life story in front of me. can feel insecure. The price was so little that I am almost embarrassed to mention it. I spend more than that on car parking in a single week. An ordinary person can reach the stars. I’d never have believed that he would have any insecurities at all about this great art. I went on to become a world-renowned artist but there wasn’t a day when I didn’t doubt my work.

Take what it was that made them legendary and make it a part of you.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD me behind the scenes of his life and shown me the rights and the wrongs. and he made loads of mistakes along the way. and we all could do exactly the same thing. There are only so many things we can learn in one lifetime. only so many lessons we can learn with the finite years that we are allotted. By doing so he built up a personal following of over three hundred million people. He has shown me that I only have to master one single thing in my life and I can have anything I want. That one single thing is ‘me. This also means that nothing is beyond you once you decide to ride the bull. That’s why books were invented. he has taught me that faith in yourself and your God means immortality. If you discipline yourself and get a lot of reading done. you could. He has given me the secret to inner power. These people have left their stories. You can take a thousand great people and learn the lessons they gleaned from their lives.’ Gandhi learned how to lead himself. so that you don’t have to do the thousands of experiments they had to do to learn what they learned. Can you imagine that? And reading his book taught me that I could. Once you have acquired this 112 . you can become the manifestation of a thousand great people. It’s not enough time really. their ‘instructions for life’ so that you can get onto the fast track.

113 . They have departed to another plane and left you the treasure maps. The biographies of great people are simply that. street maps to life. It’s great. learn the lessons and put them into action. All you have to do is get out there and buy the books. If you make reading a habit. It’s so wonderful.THE POWER OF BOOKS knowledge you can use it to power your own journey of discovery. it’ll be the best habit you ever make. If you wanted to get around London the best thing to do would be to buy a street map. read the stories.

He wanted to direct so he directed. I knew he was kidding himself. He did not wait for the grants or the permissions or the favours or the 114 .Chapter 21 The Reciprocal Universe I spoke with a guy the other day who told me that his passion was directing film. Directors do not talk. He did not direct his own films on the weekends. He lived and breathed directing. It was all he wanted to do. Take Shane Meadows. they direct. All he did was talk. He was not a member of any film groups. Today he is one of the most respected and sought after directors in Britain. He worked a nine-to-five job that bored him completely. He wasn’t directing. He wanted to be a director so he got together with a few mates and a camera and directed a bunch of short films that got him noticed.

He has 115 . It was simply the fact that he was not a writer because writers write. But it was not the cash that was stopping him. the actors. Writing is his life. he is going to invest in a course. the designer. he got his mates and he got busy making films. the tea boy and the runners have read the first draft) they go away and write it again and again and again until it positively shimmers. I have a friend who wants to write. It was only the money that was holding him back. the financers. Then (after the director. Writers do not talk a good script. As soon as his money situation is better. a computer and maybe a trip to Cannes where he could pitch his film idea and get the funds he needs to sit and write the great work that he has in him. I have another friend (several actually) who wants to make a splash in the world of martial arts. he said. Neither was it the time or the tides. the producer. They sit on their arses and bleed into their computers until they have 120 pages (that will need to be paired painfully down to 90) of carefully crafted prose.THE RECIPROCAL UNIVERSE fates. That is what directors do. He tells me that he lives and breathes writing. I know that my friend is not a real writer because he throws something together over a weekend and blames the fates when it comes back unread and unwanted. He got a camera.

He is not really a martial artist with something big to say to the world. He dreams of going to Brazil to train with the Gracie family (but its too far). And this is not because any of these things are not possible. There will never be enough money to purchase tutelage from the Gracies. They move with such force that the whole universe is forced to react and create their dream. 116 .EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD something big to say (he says) and the minute the circumstances are right (perhaps next year?) he will say it. But he knows deep down (as I know) that the circumstances will never quite favour him. They live and they breathe it. He is just a man with a bag of excuses that get ever more diverse and inventive. He might even do a little stint in Japan (but his wife isn’t keen). the time. The universe is touchsensitive to our intentions. Let me tell you that it does not wait for tomorrow. with the best folks on the planet. whenever and wherever they can. but because my friend does not really want them enough. He thinks about training in the US with the Machado brothers (but it’s too dear). Martial artists train. It waits only for you. they find the money. the permission. next week or next year. They create their own favour. If only he was as lucky as me and was able to give up his job and train full-time he felt sure that he could hit the world stage. Brazil will always be too far a trip and his wife will never agree to Japan.

Whatever it is that you have been dreaming of. And if you are scared. All growth has a kernel of discomfort. fate does not shape circumstance without action. Nutrients do not mobilise until the seed of intention is planted. become the dust of a generation that died with their best music still in them. Start the writing class that has been in your mind forever. a red light for the majority. it does not exist. Sit and write. if the very thought of acting makes you quiver with fear. Jump and a net will appear. Now is the time to act. like the millions before. before you. GOOD. 117 . make it real now. serendipity only manifests when we take up our positions and act.THE RECIPROCAL UNIVERSE So let me ask you this: When are you going to make a move? When are you going to command the fates to do your bidding? When are you going to wave your baton of intention and orchestrate the universe? Don’t wait like the masses for tomorrow. Book yourself on that directing course you always wanted to do. Discomfort is good. go and run. but for the minority – those with spunk and drive and ambition – discomfort is a green light. But nothing will move until you move. Set a deadline date to make your first film.

‘There is no Land Rover. You’ve just hiked goodness knows how many miles 118 . There is no Land Rover. There is… NO LAND ROVER.’ I say it over and over again in my mind with the rhythm of a metronome. ‘There is no Land Rover. It keeps me on track. loosening my helmet straps before the fight is won. There is no… ’ I suppose I should explain what I’m talking about before you get to thinking that me and my glassysmooth marbles have parted company. You are on selection for the SAS. Picture the scene.’ It keeps me sane.Chapter 22 There is No Land Rover ‘There is no Land Rover. It stops me from being fooled into resting up and celebrating too soon.

over hills and valleys. hovering somewhere between breathlessness and total exhaustion. Like a watery oasis in a dry desert. have yourself a brew. Your mind rushes forward to a hot tea. you’re home.THERE IS NO LAND ROVER over the icy. past the graves of former aspirants. do not continue on. Jump in the back.’ So all the way around. total collapse an ever present vulture on your left shoulder. it drives off leaving you stranded and confused and distraught – and fooled. maybe some food and bed. ‘Until you see the Land Rover. working around strains and cuts and injuries.’ he gives you one of those wry smiles and says. toe-blackening Brecon Beacons on little more than a Mars Bar and the promise that ‘when you see the Land Rover. They take an imaginary towel and throw it into the ring of metaphor. The sergeant (dressed in a warm coat. utter failure an odds-on favourite on your right… and then you see it. at this point. When you ask him. You smile for the first time in days. sipping a hot tea) tells you to continue on. They have been tricked. ‘How much further. take off your boots. You quicken your pace. walking on blisters. But just as you get within a few feet of your golden carriage. 119 . The Land Rover. and (for the majority) that trick is enough to kill their dream. living on fresh air and a frozen chocolate bar. Home.’ Most people.

a battle is going to finish (imminently) or a big deal is as good as done (just ‘t’s to cross and ‘i’s to dot). They only placed enough fuel in the tank to get them to the Land Rover. For those who do manage to pick themselves up and continue (for an added and unspecified distance). Regretfully. I remember this every time I think a script is going to be optioned (definitely this time). the Land Rover does not exist. it does exist. and not beyond. but only when you’ve got 120 . Until they are literally sitting inside the vehicle of choice with a hot tea. There is no Land Rover.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD It has beaten them. So many people fall for the Land Rover trick and give up just short of greatness because they allow themselves to believe that the Land Rover exists. I have seen many strong fighters beaten just at the point where they thought victory was certain. I had friends who lost their lives when they loosened their helmet straps because they believed that the enemy had retreated and the fight was (as good as) won. there is instant enlightenment.’ And that becomes their mantra. sort of. Well. I’ve lost count of friends who have celebrated a deal before that all important eleventh hour. Not even a foot beyond. Especially when everyone around you is telling you that there is. ‘There is no Land Rover.

Until then is it little more than a phantom.THERE IS NO LAND ROVER your arse on the seat. and the tea in your hand. And that will remain my mantra. It is healthy to remember this if you intend to reach the top in any game because (believe me) that big deal is always looming. I take my celebratory beverage because that is the only time the Land Rover is real. Until then there is no Land Rover. when the cheque is in the bank (and has cleared) and when the back door is bolted and secured. 121 .’ When the film is on screen. The Land Rover is always ‘just over the next hill.

I assured myself that my 122 . ‘Oh. I had to tell someone. half laughing. ‘Well yea. I see. There was bitterness in his tone that made me regret the call. Nick Park. ‘if that’s what I intend to do then why not? Why not! There’s a guy in Preston. ‘I suppose it’ll be the Oscars next then?’ His attitude landed like a heavy right. It’s what you do when providence lights your day. who’s won four!’ (If I have to I’ll go and get one of his!) After replacing the receiver.’ he said halfscoffing.’ I replied (a bit too defensively).Chapter 23 They Laughed at Lowry Excitedly I phoned a friend to tell him my news. I’d just won an international development award for my film script Clubbed (based on my book Watch My Back). still reeling from his unexpected response.

cynicism and jealousy are a familiar trinity.THEY LAUGHED AT LOWRY friend’s attitude need not ruin my day. too. ‘Who (they asked) does he think he is?’ Later. the haughty elite of the contemporary art world held their chuckling bellies and laughed the gentle northerner out of Manchester. They slandered him at every opportunity for trying to be more than (they thought) he was. When a young German climber told his friends of his bold intentions to climb the perilous mountain Nanga Parbat solo – a feat never before attempted. or any others. They called him an amateur and his work (at best) naïve. and I should never let him. Who’s laughing now? And they laughed at Lowry. you know. Criticism. often encountered when leaving a muddy comfort zone en route to a starry ideal. Reinhold Messner climbed Nanga Parbat solo only six weeks after conquering Everest without oxygen. hold me back. Lowry first placed his oils to canvas. When the painter L. when the (so-called) mighty had crumbled under the might and beauty of Lowry’s 123 . I wasn’t the first to be laughed at for daring to dream. Equally insane was the idea that two inexperienced men (with an investment of only $30 and a penchant for good ice cream) could one day take on confectionary giant Hagen Das. They called him insane. neither would I be the last. giant-slaying industry. let alone achieved – they didn’t just laugh at him.S. Ben & Jerry turned their $30 investment into a billion dollar.

‘There’s got to be more to life than this. I love the Lowry story because I have been the butt of many an unkind ‘who does he think he is’ jibe when I dared to swim against the societal stream. ‘This is your lot. nails full of shit – and said to him.’ Manchester opened The Lowry Galleries to honour his work. I can well remember being bored to depression in the distant past and thinking. scoffed at or laughed about – often by those closest to us.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD vision.’ Seeking answers. not only in spite of his detractors. He became global. he winked at me (as wise old veterans are inclined to do). Lowry had the last laugh.’ 124 . and his genius shone through the oils (bidders eventually paid millions to own one of his originals). then leaning forward (as though about to tell me a secret). ‘you should be grateful. All of us have watched the uncouth kick our dreams around the floor like cola cans. I turned to my workmate at the factory – elbow-deep in suds. ‘There must be more to life than this.’ He laughed at me. I can take solace in the fact that they laughed at Lowry. His later exhibitions were dedicated to ‘the men who laughed at Lowry. This is a job for life. I love that! Don’t you love that? All of us have at one time or another had our ideas stamped on. but also perhaps because of them.’ he said.

things I was told I could not – I did. We all can. I can do anything. What he said next – not just the words. It was like a dry slap across the gob. I snapped my broom (very symbolic) and left the factory forever. never to return. I think he could tell by the way my jaw went slack and my eyes hit the floor like marbles that his shopfloor philosophy had failed to enlighten me. be whomever I want. but the bitterness and conviction with which he delivered them – didn’t either. 125 . And more. This is my life. All the things I wanted to do. ‘You’ll still be here when you’re 60. watch out! They laughed at Lowry.THEY LAUGHED AT LOWRY It was the job-for-life bit that scared the tripe out of me. And I am still doing them. And for those that laugh at my dreams. go anywhere.’ Shortly after my tête-à-tête with Plato-of-thelathe. And look what happened to him.

’ Invariably. their faces scrunch into question marks when I ask. then lack 126 . In fact. I now suffer loss of feeling in my lower legs and a permanent red ring around my bum. but if you haven’t. or you harbour any doubts or fears. I am just making the point that if you have the will you’ll always find a way. so you can imagine the fun I have when people comment – on finding out that I am a writer – ‘Of course I’d love to write a book but I haven’t got the time. far from it. ‘Is there a toilet where you work?’ Not that I recommend the loo as the healthiest environment to write your latest – or indeed first – bestseller.Chapter 24 Time My first book was written whilst sitting on the toilet in a factory that employed me to sweep floors. after six months of sitting on the throne writing.

He 127 . whenever I failed to fully commit myself to a goal – and there were many such occasions – or when I did not place my heart in the driving seat. but that’s no excuse for not starting out. I wanted desperately to write a book. honed his ball skill kicking coconuts barefoot (ouch!) on the beach. arguably the greatest football player of all time. multi-million. hey. Many a thriving. and certainly no pretext for not succeeding. tools and facilities will be important and lack of them can hold you back.(even multibillion-) pound business was started from a rickety garden shed held together by chunks of work ethic and a set of hand-me-down. ‘time’ was not forthcoming and the vehicle refused to move. Many godzillionaires made their fortunes not only despite their handicaps but also because of them. Richard Branson’s first office was a public phone booth. at some point in your development. When I wrote my first book I was doing two jobs and bringing up a family. But by the same count. I found the time. A great proportion of successful entrepreneurs built their conglomerates out of cottage industry. The next convenient excuse (believe me I have used them all) that people lean towards is lack of facility. (Do you have a toilet where you work?) Granted. Pelé.TIME of time will always be a convenient excuse not to live your dreams. And. I was fully committed to writing it. elbow-greased tools.

ringbound reporter’s pad kindly donated by the factory stores.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD had no facilities and no money. but he did have a forceful desire that attracted success and convinced bank managers to hand over the readies without a security or reference in sight. my driving force. My only incentive. Or even worse. no machine with fail-safe grammar and spell check – unless you count my wife who kept saying things like. ‘You’ve spelt that wrong’ – and no hefty commission-carrot tempting the words from my often uncooperative unconscious. I had no time. Whilst I may have lacked the 128 . The only thing I did have that set me apart from the crowd was desire. rather it is because the authors never send their work to them. it is thought that some of the greatest writers of each generation never see their name in print and are never published. Until I could afford a word processor (later a computer) my working tools consisted of one blue biro (with perfunctory chewed top) and a lined. Do you realise how many genius ideas are lost when the moment is not seized. was the dread of having to work in the factory for the rest of my life. and how many are stolen while people stand in the shadow of trepidation? For instance. they never actually write it in the first place. And it’s not because prospective publishers turn down their work. All my early work was hand-written and in severe conditions that did not lend themselves to my quest.

But as I said. We immortalise our time when we invest every second. But above all it means refraining from using the time-honoured excuse. For me it means getting up early and going to bed late. It also means sacrificing some of the little things that act as timeeating termites. ‘haven’tgot-the-time’ is just a pseudonym for ‘haven’t129 . And I figure that when it comes to using our time we would be wise to recognise that we are all allotted the same amount. it can be stretched. I did desperately want to write. Branson and Gates only get 24 hours a day.TIME contemporary tools of the scribe and my writing quarters were certainly not ideal (one might say that they were piss-poor). those searching for the grail of achievement. Those who don’t make the commitment rarely. make the grade. I brought up four children so I know all about responsibility. minute and hour in the present. it accommodates committed souls. Paradoxically. if we fail to use it profitably. Once you have desire and you totally commit yourself to the process it is almost as though the whole universe conspires to make it happen. Really! In my experience. it will be gone forever. My want was always greater than my lack. time can be cruel. time is very malleable. ‘I haven’t got time’ because you have. I am sympathetic to family and work commitments. if ever. And I know how hard it can be. never to be seen again. It is what we do with our time that determines where our lives may lead.

I was once one of them.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD got-the-will’. 130 . Not least because I refuse to be a 90-something coffin dweller spending my days regretting the things that I failed to do. Now I make a commitment. nothing will stop you. If you want something enough. For many reasons. and I mean really want it with your heart and soul. nothing will get in your way. They’re the ones sitting in the factory canteen bemoaning their existence and blaming the world for their lack. You’ll always fit in more if ‘more’ is preceded by a no-excuses personal commitment to making it happen. You don’t have to look far to see the people that don’t make that commitment.

Life had cornered me with a heavy dose of highlychallenging workload and unexpected family illness. I went for a walk in the 131 . You feel sort of needlessly tortured. I do hope so. I was as vulnerable as the lobster shedding its shell. As uncomfortable as it might be I know that without adversity there will be no advance.Chapter 25 Waterfall You know how it is sometimes. In that dark void. You are going through an emotional stretch and things feel a little (or a lot) dark. And who would want that? I was there again recently actually. So I did what I often do between the night and day of personal transformation. I figure it is simply a purgatory situated somewhere between the edge of our comfort zones and freedom that we will continue to visit as long as we continue to grow.

I noticed that in the stream immediately after the fall the water was very deep.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD local country park to see if nature had any lessons to offer. It had been raining heavily all week and. as a consequence. Nature has many lessons. Until. In fact the deepest part of the whole stream was right there. But today nature was not forthcoming. Nothing I observed offered any solace. I hit the last five minutes of my walk and stood on a bridge that acted as both a crossing point to a small stream and an observation platform to a beautiful little waterfall. a deeper more profound understanding could 132 . In fact much of what I have learned thus far about pain has been through observing how (as the Bible says) the lilies in the field neither spin nor toil. I liked this observation. the Niagara that all of us experience during difficult times. raging and seemingly uncontrollable emotions that were racing through my mind and body with an energy that I did not recognise as my own. that is. something that might rub a little balm across my throbbing brow. It helped me to realise and understand that after adversity. The turmoil of the fall seemed to exactly mirror the internal struggle that I was experiencing. Immediately after the fall. something that gave me the inspiration that I was looking for. the waterfall was gushing over the precipice into the stream below. Then I intuited something else.

WATERFALL

be found. I stretched back in my mind and realised that my greatest life lessons thus far, the reference points that helped me to negotiate ever new and ever burgeoning challenges, had always been born out of hard times. The good stuff that I wrote about in my books, talked about in my videos/podcasts and dramatised in my films and plays was the fruit of the hard harvests that life had given me. Then I looked further along the stream, on the other side of the bridge, and I noticed that the water there was very calm. This told me something too. It told me that even the most violent storms do not last forever, and that after adversity there is always peace; after great darkness comes great light. This gave me hope. At the time I desperately needed it. Often when we are in the very middle of a crisis our pain feels infinite and without end. My observations told me that no single feeling can last forever. As I continued to watch (and this is completely true) I noticed a duck swimming down the stream. It didn’t seem to notice that about ten feet in front of it the waterfall was at full rage. I wondered how the duck might deal with it. I watched and observed and was amazed to see that a few feet away from the waterfall the duck simply lifted itself out of the water, flew above the waterfall and landed safely on the other side of the bridge where the waters were calm. Amazing. What I loved about this was the fact that the raging waterfall was still there, the duck 133

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just chose to rise above it. It did not attach to the turmoil below. I walked away with my first smile in weeks, determined to no longer attach to my pain, knowing that my understanding would deepen because of my experience and that there was a heavy dose of calm coming my way sometime soon.

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Chapter 26

We Are All Dying
I have some good news and some bad news for you (as the joke goes). The bad news – and I’m very sorry to be the bearer – is that we are all dying. It’s true. I’ve checked it out. In fact, I’ve double- and triple-checked it. I’ve had it substantiated and, well, there’s no easy way to say it, we are dying. It’s something that I always kind of knew, but never really chose to think about too much. But the fact is, within the next 70 or 80 years – depending on how old you are and how long you last – we are all going to be either coffin dwellers or trampled ash in the rose garden of some local cemetery. We may not even last that long. After all, we never quite know when the hooded, scythe-carrying, bringer-of-the-lastbreath might come-a-calling. It could be sooner than we’d like. I have watched death from the sidelines, 135

Scary. pronto. you know.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD quite recently in fact. see. the time is never quite right. there isn’t a tomorrow. It needs to be brought forward and done now. Tomorrow? It’s all a lie. Knowing that we are all budding crypt-kickers takes away all the uncertainty of life. There’s only a promissory note that we are often 136 . I find. the West End play you want to direct – you have to do them now. So putting your dreams on the back burner until the circumstances are right means that they’ll probably never be realised. We owe it to ourselves to go out and do them now before it’s too late. Now that I have depressed you. All that’s left is the middle bit and that’s down to us. your mind’s-eye dreamjob. here’s the good news. The prologue and epilogue are already typed in. So. It’s official. this minute. We’re dying. The novel that you want to write. in a hurry. the trip to the Grand Canyon you’ve always planned to take. We get to choose the meat of the story. Our only regrets in life are the things we don’t do. all those plans that you have on the back burner. as quick as your little legs will carry you. and nothing underlines the uncertainty and absolute frailty of humanity like the untimely exit of a friend. We already know how the story ends. the great things you’re going to do with your life ‘when the time is right?’ Well.

I love watching people ingeniously stack the cucumber around the side of the bowl – like they’re filling a skip – and then cramming it so high that they have to hire a fork-lift truck to get it back to the table. Make sure that you go back home knackered because you got so much done. ‘Have as much salad as you like but you can only go up once. ‘should haves’ and ‘would haves’. which is ticking away as we speak (at about 60 seconds a minute chronologically. Fit as much into the short time there as you can.’ Life is like that small salad bowl. We come this way but once so let’s make the best of the short stay. we can cram as much into that tiny bowl as we can carry.WE ARE ALL DYING not in a position to cash. an empty field that will remain so unless we start planting some seeds. 137 . Like the once-a-year holiday to Florida or Spain. Like the hungry people waiting for their main course. Fill your bowl. a bit faster if you don’t invest your time wisely) will be gone and you’ll have nothing to show for it but regret and a rear-view mirror full of ‘could haves’. It doesn’t even exist. They’re not greedy. Your time. When you wake up in the morning it’ll be today again and all the same rules will apply. Have you ever noticed when you go to a buffet restaurant how they give you a bowl the size of a saucer and then say. Tomorrow is just another version of now. They just know that they only have one shot at it.

It’s just what we do with our time. you’ll have achieved so 138 . that determines where our lives may lead. why the hell aren’t we doing all the things we want to do NOW? What’s all this back-burner stuff? And why are we all waiting for the right time when we already know that the right time isn’t going to show? The right time is the cheque that’s permanently in the post. not tomorrow. There is no time like the present. And now is the time. If you can’t have what you want this very second the least you can do is start the journey now. We all have the same amount of minutes. Give it up and be a painter. this minute. a tobogganist. a writer. So I say stop waiting and meet providence half way. whatever. It’s the girl who keeps us standing at the corner of the co-op looking like a spanner. the right time never arrives.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD If you don’t want to be a postman then don’t be a postman. She’s stood us up. how we invest it. while the inspiration is high. we all get the same 24 hours as Branson and Gates. Start filling your life with the riches on offer so that when the reaper arrives. Just don’t be something that you patently do not want to be. So what I’m thinking is (and this is not molecular science) if we are dying and our allotted time is finite. it never arrives. No amount of clock watching will change the inevitable. We wait.

crammed your time so full that he’ll fall asleep waiting for your life to flash before your eyes. Act now or your time will elapse and you’ll end up as a sepia-coloured relative that no one can put a name to in a dusty photo album. He didn’t do much did he?’ 139 . Better to leave a biography as thick as a whale omelette than an epitaph.WE ARE ALL DYING much. ‘Joe Smith… hmmm.

he was going to train in multi-disciplines and become a martial arts maverick. treading the world stage with the greats. He was living without a purpose. Being the funny guy that everyone knows I am I could easily have offered the hilarious advice I give most people who have lost something important. He wanted (he told me) to be the best at something. He was feeling a little sorry for himself (it’s allowed – he is human) because he woke up one morning recently and realized why he’d been feeling so depressed for the last month or so.Chapter 27 What do You Want to do? I had a letter today from a friend. It is easily done. ‘Why not look down the back of the settee?’ 140 . rather he’d had one and (somehow) lost it. Not that he’d never had a purpose. My friend had once courted high aspirations.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? It is amazing what you can find if you move a few pillows and slide your fingers and wrist into that scary abyss. I am not talking about what he thinks he should do or what others think he should do. I wasn’t interested in what will earn him the most money or even what might offer the ‘I’ve-made-it’ status that so many people crave. In the whole scope of things none of this is important. In colloquial speak. look at what a failure I am. my friend included a list of all the things that he had tried and not completed (this is part of the self-pity. He also included a list of jobs he quite fancied doing.’ 141 . or what is expected of him.’ and perhaps one of them might even be the thing he could be the best at. work that he thought might make ‘a great career. ‘Poor me. What he didn’t include on his list was what he REALLY wanted to do.’ I’ve been here a hundred times myself). But from the gloomy tone of my friend’s correspondence I figured that even a jokester as original as I might be wasting time with mirth when wisdom (and a quick solution) was being sought to the age-old problem: How do I find my purpose? How can I become the best at something? In his email. and how he was moving jobs and cities to support her (because he loved her) and also how pleased he was for her success. he talked about how well his partner was doing with her career. ‘It’s all bollocks.

No more and no less. Forget expectation. Forget responsibilities. A job with great career prospects and great money has nothing whatsoever to do with following a dream. forget the government. I tell them that their right to choose differently will set them free. They tell me that their life/job/family/commitments/mortgage keeps them imprisoned. Forget what others want and expect and demand. and what I asked him (and what I now ask you) is this: WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT TO DO? I mean REALLY. Consider this: You spend two-thirds of your waking life at work. It is their ignorance that keeps them imprisoned. Forget society. Do you really want to be bartering that 142 . I tell me) is what he should either be doing or at the very least making plans to do.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD What I really wanted to know.and seven-figure incomes who hate the jobs that they do with a passion. Forget what you think and are told is impossible. I tell them they are wrong. I have friends on six. What do you really want to do? If money and people were not an issue what is it that you would most like to spend your entire waking life doing? What is it that you love so much that time disappears when you do it? What is it that puts a light in your eyes at the mere mention of its name? That (I told him. Forget income. I tell you.

‘I’ve got a mortgage to pay. And I did train. the feel – it was almost miraculous. when I got my black belt in judo after some of the hardest training in my life. the smell. If you are the best at what you do (and it is easier to be the best when you are passionate about what you do) the money will follow – it always follows passion.’ To which I usually reply. I’ve got people relying on me. It was my job to train for a living. rich poets. If it was easy everybody would be doing it. When I did my 40 rounds on the bag after a five-mile run. a cup of tea was not just a cup of tea. It is not that easy.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? much of your time just for a lifestyle? And anyway. Only that it was possible. What you work and strive for has a taste and texture that are only born from effort. Similarly. It was a cup of tea! The taste. It is at this point that people usually shake their heads and arch an eyebrow (as though I really don’t get it) and say something like. wealthy martial artists. the texture. if everything came easy what would be the point? I have found that there is no flavour where there is no labour. I used to work full time as a martial-arts instructor.’ Of course it’s difficult. who says you can’t earn just as much money and enjoy just as good a lifestyle in a career that you love? I know millionaire plumbers. And anyway. and certainly the most difficult 143 . ‘I don’t remember saying that it was easy.

I was a changed man. So hard is where it is at. And the only reason they themselves didn’t make it was because they maintained their integrity. It is the prerequisite to success. If you don’t make it you look back into your self and take responsibility for that failing and either try again or quit bitching. had it easy. Or they claim that the person on the inside sold out. They wine because they feel overlooked. hard-done-by or elbowed out. walk under it or over it. And what a heap of horseshit. ‘it’s who you know’). 144 . All those who walk around it. And it wasn’t until I buried that sickly heap of selfpity that I finally got on. those that avoid ‘hard’ like it is a piece of shit on the floor. How noble. How do I know? I have used the same excuse many times on my way to where I am now. as we all know. This is the excuse offered by the people who just don’t step up. If you are good enough you make it. End of story. They sit outside and (many of them) bitch about how the people inside got a lucky break. never get invited to the Emperor’s banquet. knew someone on the inside (because. The lad that walked into the sports centre for the grading on Saturday morning was not the man who emerged on Saturday afternoon.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD grading I’ve ever done. undervalued.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? Back to my friend. What I have learned from my 46-years of life is that anyone can be the best at anything if they are prepared to invest themselves in it (my book Shapeshifter has more on this process). I can’t work out what is holding him back. I know many people (especially in the martial arts) who already think that they are world class and are constantly wondering why the world is not acknowledging them. give yourself an honest check-up. He wanted to find it again. He was asking for my advice. world class. global. 1) First you need to acknowledge where you are right now. ‘He thinks he is world class already. It wasn’t happening for him and I couldn’t work out why.’ She looked at him and said said to me.’ She was so right. He also wanted to be the best at something. Where are you really? If you are not sure (and this is a hard 145 . a decent fighter with a whole heap of potential who wasn’t taking that next step. He could be world class. I said to Sharon. I would say that four elements need to be in place. How was he ever going to try for the next level when he thought that he was already there? So. You need to do a brutal inventory of your level. To be the very best though. Don’t inflate your ability and don’t be self-depreciating. ‘This guy has got so much potential. I remember looking at one of my friends. This is important. though he was unsure of what that something might be. He had lost his purpose.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD one) ask the one person in your life who will tell you honestly. If your purpose is not clear.’ The reply was harsh and to the point but this is the kind of honesty that you need if you want to be great. it’ll find you when you are ready. the ‘what’ in question is probably and usually something that you have always wanted to do since you were a child and would be prepared to do even if there was no money involved. son. a search is in order. ‘Dad. From my experience. ‘Then you’d better get busy because at the moment you just ain’t doing the work. Once you have a realistic assessment of where you stand on the hierarchical ladder. they can’t always work out what. but at the same time is not afraid to tell you that you are just not cutting it. 2) You need an absolute passion for your subject matter. But if you are really serious about finding purpose don’t worry.’ His dad looked at him and said. This needs to be someone that you trust. 3) Once you have your purpose in place make sure that it is something that you personally believe you 146 . Finding a passion is often difficult for many people because while they want to do something great. A very famous drummer was approached by his teenage son. usually the kind of search that goes in and not out.’ he said. someone who is not afraid to tell you that you are great. ‘I am going to be a world-class drummer. you have to make sure the second element is in place.

smelling it. too weak or too poor to make the top tier. You don’t have to look far for sterling examples of people who have achieved the most outrageous success.’ And walk. Once you have your four elements in place. eventually. talking it (but not too much talking). what you do needs to be something that. Many people talk about being the best at this and that.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? can be the best at. eating it with your breakfast. hearing it. the screenwriters talk about Abbot or Webb Peoples but when you look closely that is all they do. too young. it is about making that talk ‘walk. They talk. seeing it. And walk. Experience has told me that anyone can do anything. the guitarists talk Clapton or Hendrix. The martial artists talk about Lee or O’Neil. if you want to aim high. watching it. It is about reading it. maybe you feel too old. And talking doesn’t make a champion. you can earn a living from because to be the best at anything you need to work at it full time. It is about surrounding yourself with it and above all else it is about putting in the (thousands of hours of) practise (under escalating 147 . supping it through the froth of your beer. It is about taking it to bed with you and waking up with it on the tip of your tongue. writing it. despite all the elements. 4) Ironically. Scan the book shops and Internet for proof to the opposite. feeling it. If you are not sure that you can.

get excited because that alone makes this is a great time. If you want to be the best. pick up the old scent and make a great adventure out of finding your purpose. Aiming for pinnacles is uncomfortable. There is hardly any air up there in the higher echelons and you can suffer. ‘Hey. let tell you about struggle! I remember the time when… ’ So. The universe is in dire need of adventurers and it is waiting for your contribution. so that when you arrive and people come to you for advise and complain about how hard their life is and how they are struggling. You will never be a great anything if you haven’t suffered. if like my friend you have lost your purpose. Beware. Be worthy of the suffering and the struggle. Confusion and struggle are the pre-cursers to major breakthroughs. a time of struggle. If this is a time of confusion for you. stop talking and start doing. you can say. Don’t let it down. retrace your steps to a time when you were inspired. 148 . But that’s good.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD instruction) that is needed before the world stage offers you its boards to tread.

‘who am I to be a success?’ I have lost count of the amount of times I have heard this comment (and even said the very same thing to myself in my darker moments). It might help to know that you are not alone. often even after major successes. My heart goes out to all of those out there inflicted by this dreadful disease we call self-doubt. They just 149 . Most accomplished people feel this way at one time or another.Chapter 28 Who am I to be a Success? I’ve had a few interesting conversations recently with people who really want to achieve some major goals in their lives but are plagued by a false belief that what it is they are aiming for is somehow not possible.’ they say to me. I know how debilitating it can be and I really do know how you feel. ‘And even if it is.

A plethora of folks can 150 .EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD learn to override the negative voices in their heads and do the work anyway. But knowing is not enough – you have to ‘do. Loads of people have the facts. His body still sweats and shivers with the anticipation of war. The great artist Escher was so full of insecurity and self-doubt that he would often feel an almost overpowering urge to stop a project. the easier it gets. rather he was a success because he learned to ignore. and even use his fears as a fuel. sometimes as soon as five minutes after starting. This entails getting a series of (even small) successes behind you to build on. It took me a long time to believe in myself. but the more you push through the doubts and the more success you get behind you. It helps to have some strong points of reference to fall back on. He learned to recognise this self-doubt as a pre-curser to all his great works. but perhaps because of it. Even the master Samurai on the battlefield is not without fear. Because he recognised it he was able to step through it like a fog.’ Reading and listening will help you learn the process but the only true knowledge is earned knowledge. but he sets himself above his biology and steps into the arena not just despite his fear. It is inspiring to know that even the master feels the same pain and fear as you. He became massively successful not because he never felt doubt or fear.

write anyway. depression. The same as the first lesson of running is to run and the first lesson of fighting is to fight. Salinger never published again. So to be a writer just keep writing.’ So when people ask me for lessons in becoming (for instance) a writer I always say the first lesson in writing is to write. line and verse on how to be the best ‘this and that’ on the planet. novels to films or films to 151 . Expect the fear. but information without experience is (what Shakespeare might have called) ‘a giant’s robe on a dwarfish thief. The critics lauded JD Salinger when he wrote the classic Catcher in the Rye. criticism. All the gold is in the pain. put-downs. It is not the art of knowing. it is the art of doing. Expect discomfort. Remember this when you try to change in order to grow and the people who love you turn their love to hate because you go from writing articles to books. books to novels. Once you have ‘made it’ expect the same again.WHO AM I TO BE A SUCCESS? quote you book. it is the pre-requisite. The very same critics savaged him when his second book was not to their liking. knockbacks. Expect trepidation. despair and the occasional failure. when even your biggest fans call you all sorts of horrible names if your second book doesn’t measure up (in their eyes) to your first or if you change style of try something new. set-backs.

nothing is. To get the gold. martial artist. you have to get past the fear. I have lost count of the number of people who told me that I was kidding myself when I said I wanted to become a top martial artist and when I said I was going to write books and films.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD plays. tailor. tinker. but it is not. soldier. 152 . That is why I was so elated at the BAFTAs because it proved to all of them (and to myself) that I (and they) can do anything. Who are you to succeed? Who the fuck are you not to? You may deem great success an impossible thing. Remember this when you try to change styles or systems or dogmas and the frightened and the wary warn you to ‘leave well enough alone. You have to be able to greet fear and doubt and (at times) utter despair along your chosen path and face these demons down.’ If you want to be anything – a writer. I can tell you now that you have chosen a very difficult path. sailor – more than the norm. Close friends. Even people that I loved scoffed at me. Everything you want resides just behind that membrane of fear you are feeling right now. I applaud you for it because difficult in the game of life is categorically a green light and not a red. They liked you as you were and where you were.

We also know (or should anyway) that the leading cause of death (heart disease) finds its way in through bad eating habits. I do. I think it’s long overdue.Chapter 29 You Are What You Ingest Have you noticed how many programmes there are on the telly these days about healthy eating? Everything from Jamie’s Dinners to Dr Gillian McKeith’s You Are What You Eat. If this is the case – and the evidence for it is compelling – why do so many people still continue to eat a diet of poison ivy and expect rose-petal health? Why (as the old adage goes) do we do what we do when we know what we know? 153 . I love it. We’ve all known (or at least we have always been told) that the food we take in determines the performance we give out.

I have to say that I did feel a lot better for it. and whether that growth is healthy or not depends entirely upon the quality of your information ingested. health was up. it is cerebral food. it relies upon it for growth. There was still a piece of the jigsaw lost. Energy was up. performance improved. but to take your thoughts to an Olympic level you need to start watching your cerebral diet. Watch a porn flick or a violent movie and the body will explode with a cocktail of 154 . I have spent most of my life reviewing and studying diet in my search for self-improvement (if not enlightenment) and through years of trial and error I managed to get my diet pretty tight. This is not a statement of metaphor. But even with my food in place there was still something missing. It was at this point I had a great realisation. Mostly because the answer is as obvious as your nose. In fact every piece of information that you absorb becomes chemicals in your body. the mainstay being information. Information is a literal food for the brain. Thinking comes through and from the brain. Don’t get me wrong. Healthy eating improves thinking no end. It is not physical food that I find completely intriguing.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD This is a question I am going to leave you to ponder on. and the brain has several forms of nutrition. mood found a steady and happy homeostasis. You can get your diet as tight as you like and it still will not bring you optimum results if your thoughts aren’t right.

and if it doesn’t get one (of either) those same hormones will quickly turn rogue. But is this the kind of nutrition that you want? I am telling you all this but you know it already. Stand with gangsters and you’ll get the violent high-octane kick of adrenalin that makes you want to set up a business in the dark arts. Your daily diet of cerebral grub consists of what you watch on TV. admire and mimic. Have an afternoon with BJJ maverick John B. Watch a movie about Gandhi or have a conversation about the global power of love with Mother Teresa and you’ll be filled with endorphins and probably want to save a small village in India or tell someone close that you love them. Even your environment feeds your brain. If you have been around for even two decades you will 155 . who you talk to (this includes talking to yourself).YOU ARE WHAT YOU INGEST stress hormones looking for a fuck or a fight. listen to on the radio. marry. Will and you’ll be inspired to traverse the globe – like he has – in search of great martial mentors. read. hang out with. If you are in a shitty part of the city under constant threat of attack don’t believe for even a second that it will not feed your brain. Spend the evening having it large with the pub cynics and you may doubt the very existence of good by the end of the evening. Have an afternoon with Deepak Chopra and you’ll probably want to study metaphysics and manifest your dreams out of mid-air.

Like physical diet. get your bollocks on the table and make the changes. Like physical diet. Bad news. The mortuary slab has no respect for prior good behaviour. One bad day on a food binge can throw you into a state of nutritional crisis (your organs are high priority. Good news first. The good results only last as long as the good information. Stop pretending that 156 . you only get the one set). I have seen many a good soul made obese simply because of greedy and poor-choice eating. Everything that goes in will come out in a similar fashion. If you have the foresight and the courage.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD have experienced enough to know that influences influence. I have seen many a good soul turn gangrenous simply because of poor-choice friends. Here’s the good news and the bad news. one bad night of poor choice company could throw you in jail or worse. It needs to be toppedup daily until it is habit. cerebral diet can be changed. what you watch and read and who you talk to can be changed in the beat of a healthy heart. Your environment and influences. If you don’t want to see the replay of bad health for the rest of your life. And if they are strong influences they influence strongly. So I say be very fussy about what you ingest. cerebral nutrition needs to be consistent. Equally.

157 .YOU ARE WHAT YOU INGEST what you eat and who you sit with doesn’t affect the very foundation of who you are. You are what you ingest. So ingest what you want to be.

and eventually. no matter what it does. a fully-grown adult weighing several tons can be tied to a twig and won’t even try to escape. that you would never be able to go it alone in business. No matter how hard the baby elephant pulls it cannot break free. or that you have to remain stuck in a social and lifestyle rut as there is no other alternative? This book argues that what ties you down and prevents you from realising your potential is only a ‘twig’.99 P/b ISBN: 1-84024-264-7 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-264-5 In India. Ultimately. after trying to break away and being thwarted time and again. . Geoff guides you through the process of breaking the negative thinking that binds us and reveals the ‘14 Golden Rules to Success and Happiness’.The Elephant and The Twig The Art of Positive Thinking Geoff Thompson £9. young elephants are trained in obedience by being tied to an immovable object like a tree. Do you ever feel that you are tied to an immovable object and can’t break free? That you couldn’t possibly give that presentation. it believes that it cannot escape.

Transform Your Life in 1 Day Shape Shifter Geoff Thompson £7.How to practise the art of personal transformation. Bafta-award winning film-maker and author of 30 books. step by step . now a martial arts expert. knows this better than most.That with the right strategy and approach. screenwriter. but Geoff Thompson believes that anyone with average ability and a strong desire can succeed in any chosen field. the first self-help guide of its kind. In Shape Shifter. success is always a choice . you will learn: . The exbouncer and factory floor sweeper.99 P/b ISBN: 1-84024-444-5 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-444-1 What if you could become anything you wanted? What if there was a method of practice that allowed ordinary men and women to transform themselves into beings of extraordinary talent? It is a commonly held belief that the leading lights of society are gifted from birth or just plain lucky.That shape shifting is our birthright as a creative species .

com .geoffthompson.summersdale.com www.www.

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